Migrant jobs not at Kiwis’ expense

The Government is likely to herald a tougher regime for issue of work visas to employ foreigners, as a part of its measures to reduce domestic unemployment and encourage more New Zealanders to engage in gainful jobs.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse indicated the above during his keynote address at the 11th annual Immigration Law Conference at Pullman Hotel in Auckland on August 8, 2013.

Admitting that existing need for employing overseas workers to fill gaps in some sections of the labour market, he said that his Government, like those of its predecessors, would follow the ‘Kiwis First’ immigration policy.

“I plan to strengthen the application of that principle. Jobs for New Zealanders will always come first and the current debate about the level of migrant labour in our workforce has raised a number of issues,” he said.

Employers’ worry

He also admitted that the quality of some New Zealanders recommended for employment by Work & Income had caused concern to some employers.

“I appreciate that employers might not always get exactly what they want, and acknowledge that for some young New Zealanders, education and skills, mobility, attitude and recreational drug and alcohol use are barriers to get jobs.

“But they are barriers to overcome, not immoveable impediments. In the short term, migrant labour will ease this problem, but I get the feeling that some employers and some industries have become overly reliant on this as a long-term salve,” he said.

Mr Woodhouse said that employment of overseas workers even on temporary basis would be subject to some conditions.

Employers should find a long-term solution to skills shortage.

“They must be diligent in demonstrating to me that they are doing all they can to ease their labour shortages domestically. I will not constrain a firm’s ability to grow, but I will be encouraging them to invest in New Zealanders by up skilling and training them so they have an opportunity to maximise their potential,” he said.

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