New Zealand's labour shortage isn't a foreign issue to the Government, but it has worsened across the country and globally due to the impact of Covid-19. With many concerns and struggles to find employees, the Government is taking steps to address the worsening situation.
The Government wants to help the New Zealand immigration system align with a national goal of increasing NZ business productivity and supporting economic growth. The Government has already made changes in an attempt to rebalance the NZ immigration system, aiming to fill the skill shortages after the pandemic led to NZ's closed borders.
"Help wanted, inquire within!” – words that New Zealanders are now seeing so frequently across the nation.
Job ads show demand for labour is at record highs. This, combined with a record low number of people out of work (3.3% in June 2022), means it is getting increasingly harder to find workers.
The NZIER’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion shows firms are finding it very hard to recruit (hardest on record), and lack of labour is the biggest constraint to growing their business (meaning they cannot make or sell more products without more workers, which is a limit to business and thus economic growth).
This isn’t just a NZ issue, it’s been seen everywhere around the world because of the issues listed below….
As markets begin to stabilise and production levels are slowly rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, companies from around the world have yet another challenge to navigate: the ongoing labour shortage. In fact, there is estimated to be a shortage of 85 million workers around the globe by 2030.
These are acute skill shortages and also a generalised labour shortage across skill and income brackets.
For New Zealand specifically we are finding reasons such as…
NZ Employers are reporting a mismatch in the skills advertised when applicants are applying for jobs, with a high proportion of applicants deemed to have a ‘lower skill level’ than the job advertised.
With fewer people to choose from, and only immigration now restarting, employers need to be resourceful. Possible solutions suggested are for companies to look at upskilling and implementing in-house training programmes to counteract this issue. However, this adds to the extra cost of onboarding new employees and is a longer-term solution rather than an immediate fix.
Generally, there has been a labour shortage in New Zealand for quite some time. However, due to travel restrictions implemented during the first stages of the pandemic and the resulting closure of New Zealand's borders in March 2020, this problem has compounded for New Zealand employers.
Several industries are recovering to pre-pandemic levels. However, manufacturing companies are not working at full capacity. The manufacturing industry suffered a shortage before the hit of the pandemic. There were studies that predicted globally there will be 8 million jobs that could go unfilled by 2030.
Labour shortages, specifically due to the closure of our borders for two years, have reduced our pool of immigrants who have been supporting our businesses, which in turn significantly reduced our workforce.
New Zealand's workforce before 2020 had been topped up with migrant workers entering on visas such as the skilled migrant visa NZ. However, coupled with the after-effects of the closure, we are still seeing major employment gaps across the board and new immigration policies that have caused further delays for New Zealand employers, which are not expected to improve until 2023.
New Zealand's economy desperately needs more people from overseas to fill vacancies. Immigration NZ introduced a Green List occupation list to prioritise some specific skilled labour roles. However, this is not a quick road to recovery for our Kiwi companies.
Declining fertility rates will add to labour shortages over time, but the most recent factor has been the “Great Retirement”. There was a spike in most countries of what is referred to as “excess retirements” – the numbers retiring from the workforce at a higher rate than expected – during COVID.
The Government is rebalancing New Zealand's immigration system to increase New Zealand's business productivity and increase the amount of highly skilled workers to support our economy's growth.
The Government hears the concerns of businesses as they continue to find it challenging to recruit internationally in this constrained labour market. The cry for help to attract more highly skilled applicants to relieve labour shortages, is guiding the Government’s decisions to ensure they respond with a more competitive edge to attract talent to New Zealand.
NZ immigration policy changes focus on reducing critical skill shortages and boosting the economy, which is approached through various work, investment and residency visa changes.
Skilled Migrant Category
“We are resuming the Skilled Migrant Category under the current settings to help attract more workers. The first selection will be at 160 points, and subsequent selections at an increased threshold of 180 points, to better align with the future direction of the category and our rebalance goals.
The Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) visa was reopened and resumed (under the same settings previous to April 2020) on 9 November 2022. However, new and continuous changes are expected, as the Government's proposal has been submitted for consultation before it is implemented.
The October 2022 announcement included an increase in the points threshold from 160 to 180 from 18 January 2023.
INZ has proposed a simplified points system that sets a clear, fair, and transparent eligibility threshold for skilled residence.
Working Holiday Makers
In August 2022, the Government announced changes to increase access to working holiday makers, meaning more people can visit and work in New Zealand.
Capped schemes not yet filled had their cap doubled on 8 September 2022 and remain open.
The Government also announced that the closed schemes have specific re-opening dates, as listed below.
There are extra places for working visas added (and for schemes that are currently closed, extra places that will be added in the near future) for different working holiday schemes for various countries and territories, as listed below.
The Parent Resident Visa restarted on 12 October 2022 and resumed selecting existing expressions of interest (EOIs) on 14 November 2022.
From May 2023, EOIs can be submitted online on the Immigration New Zealand website.
Any EOIs INZ received from 12 October 2022 went into a ballot, with the first random selection from the ballot in August 2023, then every three months after that.
Accredited Employer Work Visa
The most common work visa, it replaces 6 previous work visas. The streamlining introduces more criteria that the employer must follow to show a commitment to hiring New Zealanders first, and ensuring their migrant workers are looked after and settled well into this country.
As a part of the Government's rebalance announcement, the new Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV NZ) was introduced and requires employers to be accredited if they want to promote job vacancies overseas and hire migrants.
The Green List
Immigration NZ introduced the Green List to prioritise key roles needed to ensure the smooth running of the country. Attracting Medical professionals like nurses and doctors to grow the workforce alongside local graduates. However, this is not a quick road to recovery for our healthcare system.
The Green List makes it easier for employers to attract globally in-demand workers to New Zealand, but it is not the only pathway. Employers can still attract skilled migrants through a pathway to residence under the Skilled Migrant Category.
Applying for a New Zealand visa doesn't have to be overwhelming. Reach out to our experienced immigration advisers for advice and guidance on the process.
For an interim period, the Government has also implemented sector agreements to help employers fill skill gaps. These agreements allow some exemptions to the median wage requirements for hiring migrant workers under the AEWV guidelines for specific occupations and sectors. This allows employers in the specific sectors an extension of time in order to make changes.
The AEWV scheme requires employers to pay a median wage of NZ$27.76 for migrant workers to qualify for an NZ working visa. The median wage will increase to NZ$29.66 in April 2023.
The Government's immigration rebalance strategy aims to increase New Zealand's productivity and value by advocating for businesses to increase their investment in new business models and labour-saving technology, where appropriate. As they limit the low skilled permanent workforce businesses will need to adapt if this workforce is their main source of productivity output.
There are several ways that the Government aims to improve the healthcare system and support New Zealand's growing and aging population. All of the health reform changes are designed to reduce the pressure on specialist and hospital care.
The Government has increased the budget for 3000 nurses and an additional 1000 healthcare places over a period of four years. They are also investing NZ$76 million to develop a primary healthcare workforce, including 1,500 training places for nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy.
Read more about how the Government is supporting the future of New Zealand’s healthcare system here.
Contact an expert licensed adviser today!
Be sure to keep on top of all the latest Government announcements and changes to the NZ Immigration system. You can always keep yourself informed about work visas, employer accreditation and Immigration NZ news by subscribing to our newsletter or contacting our experienced immigration advisers.
Malcolm Pacific Immigration handles all types of immigration applications and provides professional advice for both employers and migrant workers. We can help you through the complicated application process.
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Today the government announced a pathway to residence for migrant workers who are living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave who are eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else they will miss out on this one off opportunity.
Today the government announced a pathway to residence for people living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave eligible to apply. The second wave can apply from 1 March 2022. The deadline to lodge an application is 31 July 2022 or else you miss the boat.
The government has moved the introduction of the new employer accreditation process across to mid-2022. At the same time, the Minister of Immigration announced new work visa rules for migrant workers who are already in New Zealand and working full time.
The government has increased the median wage to $27 per hour from 19 July. Any Skilled Migrant residence application lodged after this date will need to include a skilled job offer that pays at least $27 per hour. For some lower-skilled occupations, the minimum pay rate increases to $40.50 per hour.
From 19 July 2021
From 30 June 2021
Employers of migrant workers must become accredited from 1 November 2021 before work visa applications can be processed. Most employers are not accredited. Those that are accredited will have to roll into the new system when it goes live in late September.
From mid-2020 (delayed)
Skilled occupation "Dairy Cattle Farmer" spilt into three occupations. New occupations are: "Dairy Farm Manager", "Assistant Dairy Farm Manager" and "Dairy Herd Manager". Each sit at different skill levels, therefore, the award of points will depend on pay rates, job tasks and other requirements.
From 15 February 2021
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool for six months (to be reviewed in April 2021). Invitations to Apply for Residence remain suspended. The last selection from the Skilled Migrant pool took place on 18/03/2020.
From 7 October 2020
The government added four new occupations that are now regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. These are:
Aged or disabled carer, Bicycle mechanic, Driller and Nursing Support worker.
From 27 July 2020
Anyone invited by Immigration NZ to apply for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category where their invitation is dated between 1 November 2019 and 15 April 2020 (inclusive) has now been granted an additional six months to lodge their residence application.
From 27 May 2020
The government has deferred the fortnightly selection of Expressions of Interest from the Skilled Migrant pool. This means Invitations to Apply for Residence are also suspended. Malcolm Pacific Immigration does not anticipate selections to resume until after the general election held on 17 October 2020.
Immigration NZ is now prioritising Skilled Migrant Residence applications where the main (principal) applicant meets the criteria:
From 24 February 2020
From 7 October 2019
The government recently added more occupations that are now to be regarded as skilled employment and may qualify for job offer points under the Skilled Migrant Category. In order to qualify for points, the job must be paying at least the current median wage (or higher for certain occupations) at the time the residence application is lodged.
From 1 November 2021
From 1 November 2021 anyone who is not a NZ citizen must be fully vaccinated (unless exempt) before travelling to New Zealand. Fully vaccinated means your last dose of vaccine was given at least 14 days before travelling and it was an approved vaccine.
Applications for employer accreditation closed at the end of June 2021. Applications lodged before the closure date are still being processed. New applications for accreditation open on 9 May 2022. The process will be quite different to what employers have experienced in the past. Businesses will need to meet minimum standards.
Wednesday, 1 December is fast approaching and it is estimated that around 16,000 individuals and families can apply in the first wave for the 2021 Resident Visa opening next month. It is exciting for the thousands of people who have been waiting patiently to become residents that finally the finish line is in sight.
The first wave of applicants can apply from 1 December 2021. Around 16,000 applications are expected in this first wave. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. In total, the government expects approximately 110,000 applications that will include about 165,000 people.
The second group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 March 2022 are those who hold an eligible work visa and either meet "Settled", "Skilled" or "Scarce" as set out above. In total Immigration NZ estimate around 110,000 people will qualify to apply for this visa.
The first group of workers who can apply online for the 2021 Resident Visa that opens on 1 December 2021 are those that on 29/09/2021:
Is this the only requirement to qualify for residence? No. In addition to the eligible work visa criteria workers also need to be regarded as one of the following:
People who were lawfully in NZ (or in Australia when the travel bubble closed between April and July 2021) on 29/09/2021 need to meet the visa eligibility criteria:
The government has introduced a limited pathway to residence for people who are already living and working in New Zealand. Applications open on 1 December 2021 for the first wave of people eligible to apply. The second wave opens on 1 March 2022. The deadline to apply for the 2021 Resident Visa is 31 July 2022.
A small number of critical health workers (taking up jobs for six months or longer) or specialist workers (taking up jobs that are for longer than six months) who were granted border exemptions may also have eligibility for the 2021 Resident Visa. They will need to have arrived in NZ and lodge a 2021 Resident Visa application.
*Excludes high-risk countries.
*Excludes high-risk countries.
The work visa categories set to close are:
In order to address labour shortages in New Zealand's crucial industries the NZ government has implemented a "Green List" of sought-after high-skill occupations. This list offers a prioritised pathway to residency.
There are qualification and/or occupational registration requirements to meet. Occupations are broken down into two tiers:
The recent additions in May 2023 across many sectors on the Green List NZ can be found here