The government’s ‘tweaks to the tweaks’ regarding the proposed Essential Skills Visa changes has been welcomed by Hospitality New Zealand and reflects the concerns raised throughout the consultation process.
“We have been heavily engaged in this process from the start because we knew many employees in the hospitality and commercial accommodation sector would have been negatively impacted by the introduction of tighter immigration policy,” Dylan Firth, advocacy and policy manager for Hospitality New Zealand said.
The amendments will bring the proposed wage threshold down to $41,538 a year, instead of $48,859 as proposed during consultation.
“This change means migrant hospitality professionals can focus on improving their skill set and experience allowing them to work towards the higher wage thresholds and potentially a pathway to residency if that is what they want to do, instead of being asked to leave after 3 years,” he said.
“While these changes will not decrease the current pressures around finding good quality employees, it does reflect the government’s ability to acknowledge the sectors ever increasing human resource requirements and, as a result, they have moved away from the tighter restrictions that were initially proposed.”
“Growth in visitor numbers and New Zealand’s strong economic position over recent years has led to an increase in demand for hospitality and tourism workers. Currently it is difficult for businesses to keep up with the demand for labour.”
“Our industry employs a large number of migrant workers. Many businesses operate in remote areas of the country with few locals wanting to, or available to, work in hospitality but with large numbers of customers and demand through tourism. These businesses are often forced to look to international staff to fill these gaps. Of-course we want to employ locally first, unfortunately that can’t always be the case.”
“Current rates of low unemployment of around 5 percent, and the forecast for this to continue, means we will see little input into the hospitality sector from the domestic channel especially with the competition from other sectors for employees.”
Hospitality New Zealand also welcomes the government’s commitment to undertaking Phase Two of the review of temporary migration settings. These include developing a framework for further targeting of immigration settings by sector and region, developing proposals to incentivise and reward good employer behaviour, and ensuring that seasonal work visas reflect seasonal work.