By: Simon Collins
Carpenters, teachers and cafe and restaurant managers may get fast-track permits to immigrate to New Zealand under a new Government proposal.
The three groups are among 14 jobs proposed to be added to the Essential Skills in Demand list, which makes it easier for employers to hire workers from overseas.
The building industry and a teachers’ union welcomed the proposal in view of severe shortages in both sectors.
Master Builders Federation chief executive David Kelly said he was “very pleased” that the list includes construction project managers and building associates as well as carpenters, glaziers, plumbers, quantity surveyors and stonemasons.
“A lot of the commentary has been around trades skills like carpenters and glaziers, and while that is absolutely true, just as big an issue is those project-manager-type roles,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we have not just trade skills but people who are running businesses and projects, because that is where a number of the problems start when inexperienced project managers just don’t know how to manage some of the bigger projects.”
NZ Educational Institute president Lynda Stuart said her union would not oppose adding primary and early childhood education (ECE) teachers to the list.
“While we won’t oppose teachers being added to the list for the short term, clearly the quality and sustainability of both primary and ECE workforces are at risk. The ultimate losers will be children and their learning,” she said.
She said other solutions could include bringing back bonding schemes for teachers, supporting beginning teachers better and extending student allowances and loan eligibility.
The Post Primary Teachers Association said it would also not oppose secondary teachers being added to the list.
Hospitality NZ policy and advocacy manager Nadine Mehlhopt said restaurants and cafes would “absolutely” welcome cafe and restaurant managers being added to the list.
“It’s something we have been asking for quite some time,” she said.
She said it was a misapprehension that “any old body” could run a cafe.
“There is some quite sensitive legislation that needs to be adhered to. There is a requirement that they have to adhere to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, the Food Safety Act and now the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
“It’s not just dealing with the staff, but also dealing with customers. They have to be able to deal with young people and old people, people who may complain about things.
“Obviously we would prefer if possible to have New Zealanders first and foremost, but the fact of the matter is we just haven’t got them.”
She said a survey in 2016 found that only 1 per cent of Hospitality members were able to get a suitable manager through Work and Income, and 32 per cent said it took more than six months to find a suitable manager.
The rest-home sector will also be pleased to see aged-care nurses, although not caregivers, on the proposed list.
However the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which runs Immigration NZ, has not expressed a view on whether any of the 14 new occupations should be added to the essential skills list, and has assessed them all as having only “moderate” evidence of skill shortages.
Jobs listed on the Jobs Online index actually declined in the year to June in 10 of the 14 occupations, and increased only for aged care nurses (up 27 per cent), fitters (up 14 per cent), glaziers (up 11 per cent) and wood machinists (up 10 per cent).
Immigration NZ granted 4684 essential skills visas to people in the 14 occupations in the year to June, including 1962 carpenters, 1043 cafe and restaurant managers and 708 aged care nurses.
The visas granted to aged care nurses represented 240 per cent of the total 284 registered nurses estimated to be employed in aged care, although the ministry noted that this was probably due to classification issues and asked for better information from the industry.
Visas granted in the year to June represented 15 per cent of all existing wood machinists, 13 per cent of carpenters, 7 per cent of stonemasons and 6 per cent of cafe and restaurant managers, but only minimal percentages of the other nine occupations.
The full list of occupations up for review is:
- Building Associate
- Cafe Manager or Restaurant Manager
- Construction Project Manager
- Early Childhood Teacher (Pre-primary School)
- Fitter (General)
- Plumber (General)
- Primary School Teacher
- Quantity Surveyor
- Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
- Secondary School Teacher
- Wood Machinist.
The proposed list is open for submissions until November 9 and a final list will be issued in January.
Source: NZ Herald