New Zealand is currently in the process of developing a new temporary work visa to replace six current visa categories. By doing so, the country is aiming to increase employer, job and worker checks and also to help improve the overall conditions for New Zealand workers.
First of all, there are approximately 30,000 businesses in New Zealand that are suffering from chronic skills shortages. These organizations desperately need to bring in employees to ensure that operations remain profitable and reliable. Foreign workers are the primary employee source for these companies as there are insufficient numbers of New Zealanders available for work in certain areas of the country.
By making the overall visa process stronger and more accredited, this provides more assurance to both people applying for the visas as well as the businesses hiring workers with the visas. This also includes a provision of thorough background checks on employers to ensure that they have no history of migrant exploitation or a history of failing to meet obligations. This is especially prevalent in business areas such as elder care, hospitality services and construction sites. By having stricter policies, organizations that hire migrant workers will also be required to continue providing better working conditions for migrant workers.
With this new process, New Zealand is also increasing scrutiny of organizations to see if they can, in fact, provide more training, support or opportunities to New Zealanders in order to employ as many locals as possible before approving more migrant worker visas. Overall, these stricter policies and increased observation from the government are seen as creating a better working climate for all employees whether they are migrant workers on a temporary visa or New Zealand citizens.
The country as a whole has a very low unemployment rate of only approximately 4.2 – 4.3%, which makes it very hard for organizations to find enough labor to support their operational needs. This is especially prevalent in areas of work such as farming. In some rural areas unemployment rate is basically 0% which shows the critical necessity of this visa program in order to bring more skilled workers to the area quickly and efficiently.
Additionally, the field of elder care is expected to grow tremendously in the next 20 years as the population of people in New Zealand over the age of 85 is expected to triple in that time. At this rate, as many as 10,000 additional elder care workers will be necessary for the country to provide the care required for their citizens.
With the implementation of the new visa program starting in October of 2019 and continuing forward to full implementation by the year 2021, it will be interesting to observe the progression of the country as they hire and bring in more foreign workers. Alongside the immigration of foreign workers, New Zealand is also working on developing policies allowing foreign workers to bring their families to New Zealand as well. Throughout this entire process it will be very important to ensure that there are ongoing negotiations and observations in order to adequately predict and meet the needs of a future workforce.