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Immigration reset

Government minister Stuart Nash makes a speech about resetting New Zealand's immigration system on behalf of Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

A move away from relying on low-skilled workers to attracting those with higher skills is a key part of the Government’s recently proposed “reset” of New Zealand's immigration policies.

Minister for Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash – standing in for Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi – says COVID has presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fix the country’s over-reliance on migrant labour.

Currently, those on temporary work visas make up 5 per cent of the labour force - the highest share in the OECD.

The proposed reset aims to move away from this reliance, instead targeting high-skilled workers, while also seeing employer requirements and labour market tests strengthened so temporary workers are only recruited for genuine job shortages.

However, some argue this move will worsen labour skill shortages, of which we are already experiencing in some of the Bay of Plenty’s prominent sectors, including horticulture, hospitality and logistics.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Skills Leadership Group is looking into these challenges and have identified some market opportunities to mitigate sector risks.

These include cross-sector collaboration between industries to share available labour resources and adopting more flexible approaches to working, to better leverage the in-region domestic labour pool.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has defended the proposed policy reset, telling Morning Report the Government is signalling its long-term intentions and the need for structural adjustments.

These changes could have significant impacts across a wide range of industries in the Bay of Plenty but until more details are released, the scope of that impact is unknown. We’ll keep you updated as this work progresses.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

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