“Two recent surveys, NZ Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom and BusinessNZ’s Survey of Business Opinion, show that the biggest issue facing New Zealand businesses is skill shortages and immigration. The Government should adopt ACT’s proposals to make it easier for businesses to attract workers and provide some respite for businesses,” says ACT’s Immigration spokesperson Dr James McDowall.

“Both surveys said that skills shortages were the biggest obstacle facing New Zealand businesses, brought on by restrictive immigration policy.

“The BusinessNZ Survey of Business Opinion asked small and medium businesses to describe how easy or difficult it was to find or retain workers due to immigration settings, 87 per cent of respondents said that it was either “difficult” or “very difficult” to fill job vacancies, and 63 per cent attribute their difficulties to immigration restrictions.

“This is despite 77 per cent of respondents increasing their investment in training and skill development for potential employees. Employers are doing their bit, but the Government is failing to do theirs.

“NZ Herald’s Mood of the Boardroom survey asked New Zealand’s top CEOs and Directors to rank their biggest concerns, with labour shortages and immigration policy again the two biggest.

“ACT has been saying since July we need to address our cumbersome immigration policy and remove restrictions that might have made sense when we were short of jobs, but are damaging in a labour crisis.

“Even an accredited employer finds it near impossible to hire migrant workers due to the hoops that they need to jump through. ACT says if you’re an accredited employer you should be free to hire who you want.    

ACT would:

  • Provide all occupations on the ‘Green List’ a fast-track to residency by removing the ‘work to residence’ divide
  • Simplify the Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme by abolishing labour market tests, wage rules, and make it easier for migrants to move between accredited employers.

“Other countries can see there’s a war for talent and they’re taking steps to attract workers. For example, the UK recently extended the working holiday visa for Kiwis to 35 years of age. Australia has increased its number of permanent resident visas by 35,000. In stark contrast Immigration NZ is acting like a security guard at the border.

“One former immigration officer told Stuff that “the job has become less about allowing people through if they met policy criteria and more about finding reason to delay things.”

“We need to put the power in the hands of employers and allow them to get the workers they need now. We need these changes to make our society productive again and to let businesses thrive.”

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James McDowall