Category Archives: Skilled Migrant Visa

Why NZ needs skilled migrants

NZ needs skilled migrants

Immigration is a hot topic in the news, stories highlighting an increase in migrant workers often brings a backlash from the public as there is a perception that skilled migrants are taking opportunities for lower pay that could be filled by a local workforce.

 So why does New Zealand have to recruit workers from overseas?

Immigration New Zealand’s website currently lists over 60 areas that immediately need skilled workers. These include IT, agriculture, education, the health sector, and trade and construction.

If the job is not in an area of skill shortage, and the visa applicant is not qualified as detailed in that list, current visa criteria requires companies to make significant attempts to fill vacancies with New Zealanders. And it goes without saying that companies would prefer to hire locally. As prominent immigration lawyer Aaron Martin says: “Why on earth would an employer go through the paperwork of a visa application process if they don’t have to?”

But, as the lengthy list of shortages shows, there just aren’t enough Kiwis with the required training and experience to fill the gaps. Talent is the single most important factor in the future prosperity of many industries, in fact the lack of available talent will be the greatest restriction in their growth.

Even in areas facing skill shortages, hires can take months or more. Catherine Clarke of Roam Creative, a leading digital product and innovation agency, told us: “It can take at least two to three months to fill a vacancy. Roam has been recruiting continually all year to fill roles including testers, designers, developers, and product managers. With perseverance and a strong employer brand, we’ve been lucky enough to source some amazing talent recently, but it is challenging as there simply aren’t enough skilled local candidates to cope with the growth of the IT industry in New Zealand.”

Roam recently set up an office in Sydney, but shortage of IT personnel is a problem there, too. With difficulty filling roles in New Zealand, and even stricter immigration laws in Australia, Clarke knows the vacancies won’t be filled quickly.

Crop production is another area on the immediate skill shortage list. Pedro Wylaars, National General Manager of Zealandia, has over 220 staff working to grow and supply millions of plants to commercial growers and garden centre businesses across the country. The company is always advertising for staff, and it struggles even to fill roles that offer on-the-job training.

It’s also a challenge for Zealandia to find New Zealanders with relevant tertiary qualifications. “The universities in New Zealand can’t fill up the horticulture papers,” says Wylaars. “And most of those students end up switching over to the agricultural sciences anyway.”

Wylaars says that if they couldn’t take on staff from other countries, they’d be “in big trouble”.

But aren’t migrants taking jobs from Kiwis who need work?

Both Roam and Zealandia are in industries on the skills shortage list, and are lucky enough to be able to recruit from overseas. But some people think these jobs should go to unemployed Kiwis.

Martin says this is a misconception of the realities of operating a business. “Some New Zealanders have a myopic view of the needs of New Zealand employers who are (often) trying to compete internationally” he says. “Some think ‘being a Kiwi’ is a qualification in itself that should put them first in terms of candidate selection”

Martin believes that employers should be able to choose staff who are the best fit for their company, with the best skills and the highest expertise. “If you miss out on a job to someone from overseas, it means you were not the best-qualified person, and you need to get out and upskill yourself. The best-skilled people get the jobs – it’s that simple”.

What benefits do migrants bring to jobs? 

It’s not just skills, training, and experience that migrants bring to roles; it’s a whole different ethos. Drive, ambition, energy, and a willingness to continuously upskill come as part of the package.

Martin credits this to one simple reason: “When you uproot yourself and family, and say good bye to your friends, your professional networks, and the comfort of a labour market that understands your skills, and you drop yourself into a completely foreign country, there’s no room for failure.”

Most migrant employees come from countries where there are several billion people. With intense competition for jobs and employment it’s necessary to adopt a strong work ethic to make yourself shine. New Zealand employers find this incredibly attractive. “It’s not a one-way equation,” says Martin. “It’s not as if migrants are the only ones benefitting – we actually get something that we need, too. It’s a two-way exchange. We get the benefit of their skill and experience. We get an opportunity to learn new things and that knowledge transfer benefits business and local employees.”

 Migrants also bring valuable diversity to the workplace. Roam, which creates apps and digital solutions across a variety of industries, finds this hugely beneficial. “Every product we build is designed with the user in mind. Migrants have been so valuable in bringing new insight and different perspectives when it comes to designing products for the user, which gives our Product teams a broader understanding of users on a global scale, empowering us to design products for the global market.”

The skills and experience migrants bring can also help take businesses up to another level. Wylaars experienced this first-hand when he employed an overseas candidate who is recognised globally as one of the top five in their field. “We thought we were already doing a pretty good job,” says Wylaars. “But this new employee has taken us two or three rungs further up the ladder – we’re now getting global attention for some our new techniques and processes.”

What benefits do migrants have on the economy?

Clarke says that areas experiencing skill shortages, such as IT, have become “candidate-driven job markets” where locals can demand high salaries. “In some cases, IT salaries have been driven up because of this,” she says.

High salaries obviously impact employers, with the cost usually passed onto clients. But the claim that migrant labour dampens wages is not the reality of employers experience.

Clarke states: “Our employees are hired for their expertise and their value to the business. Whether they were hired locally or overseas, this is irrelevant. It’s neither fair, nor sustainable to offer migrants lower pay as they’ll just move on to another job”.

International employees use their previous connections with overseas companies to help businesses grow, as well as create new businesses. This helps our overall economic growth. Migrants bring innovative concepts, methods and different perspectives with them from overseas.

“When you look at the net gain on economic activity of New Zealanders versus migrants, migrants perform well as their draw on publicly funds services is often low,” Martin says.

Migrants are less likely to claim benefits and, contrary to popular belief, actually create more jobs, mostly due to supply and demand. “As more migrants come into to the country we begin to see more smaller businesses established,” says Martin. “Migrants are often entrepreneurial and seek economic freedom and control over their own destiny by being self-employed. These new Kiwis create vital economic activity for our country.”

Looking for Immigration advice? If you have a concern about your visa or would like to speak to our expert immigration team for support with a migrant employee application, get in touch today.

Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

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Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

Employers hiring migrants have been making headlines lately for breaching immigration and employment law. Leading immigration lawyer Aaron Martin and solicitor Eleanor Gregan of Davenports Harbour Law discuss the most common mistakes made by migrant employers and how to avoid them.

From 1 April 2017, employers who incur a penalty for breaching employment standards have faced a stand-down period preventing them from recruiting migrant labour. The stand-down period is for six months, one year, 18 months, or two years, depending on the severity of the breach.

Continue reading Migrant employers need to get the record straight…

Major bureaucratic flaws in New Zealand’s immigration system

Leading Auckland immigration lawyer Aaron Martin knows from extensive experience with clients exactly where the frustrations and incompetencies of the current process lie. He has some suggestions for the new Government about where its focus should be when it comes to immigration.

The Labour Party election campaign focused on positive messages. So I eagerly looked forward to an equally positive message from the new Minister of Immigration. But in an article on the Newsroom website on 1 December the Minister started on a negative: the immigration system was broken and required more money to catch those who try to shaft it.

Continue reading Major bureaucratic flaws in New Zealand’s immigration system

Time to ask for a pay rise…

If you want to be granted a Skilled Migrant Category Residence visa in 2018 you should check your eligibility against the new Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment SMC criteria.

Last week, the MBIE updated the SMC visa and changed the remuneration (payment) threshold that will meet the eligible criteria for migrants.

Continue reading Time to ask for a pay rise…

A letter to the New Zealand Government

To the Right Hon. Jacinda Adern and the Hon. Iain Lees-Galloway,

Welcome to Government. I am looking forward to the next 100 days. I am hoping some of rank injustice created by your predecessors will be swept away.

You said your Government will be empathetic. I am hoping you’ll have some empathy for those New Zealanders whose parents have been left in limbo since the National Government’s cancellation of the Parent Category.

Continue reading A letter to the New Zealand Government

Immigration net migration numbers will be cut to 30K a year

New Zealand’s new prime minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to honour Labour’s election promise to cut net migration to 20,000 to 30,000 a year.

She also predicted that New Zealand will be facing an economic slowdown which she plans to prepare for:

Continue reading Immigration net migration numbers will be cut to 30K a year

What impact will Winston Peters bring to the migrant community?

What Impact will Winston Peters bring to the migrant community?

The results of the election suggest the next year will be very interesting for the migrant community.

As predicted, Winston Peters is kingmaker. For 21 years Peters has pushed an anti-migrant platform, and we can expect that any coalition deal New Zealand First makes – whether with Labour or National – will include some attempt to curtail immigration numbers.

Continue reading What impact will Winston Peters bring to the migrant community?

New Immigration rules will severely impact New Zealand business

Analysis of the new immigration law changes has so far focused on the effects on the economy and the flow of migrants. But there are several other ramifications of the recent law changes that have been overlooked.

As the changes restrict pathways to residence under the skilled migrant category, New Zealand employers will find it more difficult to fill positions. Some employers may have roles available that would have been previously been defined as skilled jobs but with the new income thresholds that will no longer be the case.

Continue reading New Immigration rules will severely impact New Zealand business

Government announces changes to immigration laws

Quick outline of the changes:

  • Two remuneration thresholds are being introduced.
  • One remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled.
  • The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid.
  • Continue reading Government announces changes to immigration laws