Business leaders warn against new Labour immigration policy

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly
Hudson NZ general manager Roman Rogers

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Labour’s new immigration policy would mean Immigration New Zealand would be given the power to make employers train New Zealanders before getting the nod to employ workers from overseas.

BusinessNZ says the policy released by Labour this weekend appears to convey employers are to blame for skills shortages in New Zealand.

BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says Labour’s policy is “wrongheaded.”

“What Labour’s doing is a bit worrisome because what they’re saying is they are going to be much tougher on employers.

"They’re saying you’ve got to skill up your workforce before you come knocking on the immigration door.”

He says the government needs to work with businesses to help solve the skill shortage.

“You can’t just train them all up in a week. Sometimes, no matter how much good work government does with employers and the likes in terms of training for some of those skills, they go overseas too.

“This is always going to be an issue, with the gap between the skills a business needs at any given time and what the skills system in New Zealand can deliver them.”

Hudson NZ general manager Roman Rogers says there is a big gap in the skilled worker market.

“There is a significant gap between the skill sets that are required by New Zealand business and the skill sets that are available from the local market.”

“I think we need to be realistic about some of the gaps we’re experiencing at the moment, which are significant, and they won’t be closed in the short to medium term through education and local workforce.”

Mr O’Reilly agrees and adds this is the government and the educations sector's responsibility.

“You can’t just train someone up in the space of two months just because a new business opportunity has come along.”

He says this policy will cause companies to stop growing and lead to consumers losing confidence.

Jason Walls is an AUT journalism student


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