Coalition moves to speed up construction visas for Kiwibuild

Government estimates construction industry is 30,000 workers short.

As the Coalition government struggles to get KiwiBuild off the ground it is proposing to make it easier for the construction industry to recruit workers from overseas.

Under the proposed KiwiBuild Skills Shortage List building and construction firms will be able to go through a quicker process to get the skilled workers they need when they cannot recruit locally.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says it is estimated the industry is 30,000 workers short. It particularly needs plumbers, electricians, engineers, builders and project managers.

“This is a broader, more comprehensive and quicker approach for the construction sector to get the skilled workers it needs than the KiwiBuild Visa that was proposed last year. It’s clear we need workers to be available more quickly. These proposals aim to speed up the process and circumvent the need to create a new visa category,” Mr Lees-Galloway says.

The proposed changes include setting up the shortage list to speed up the process for filling specific jobs; an employer accreditation or pre-approval model to give certainty to good employers to recruit overseas; and accrediting labour-hire companies to manage the risk of workers being exploited.

The Ministry of Business says the changes will provide certainty to the construction industry and cut the costs and time for both employers and employees.

It says under the employer accreditation or pre-approval model only good employers would be eligible. They would have to adhere to standards for health and safety, employment conditions and pay, pastoral care and robust business practices.

Mr Lees-Galloway says the initiatives are all based on what was done to speed up the rebuild of Christchurch. Any changes would have a time limit so the sector does not become permanently dependent on migrant workers.

“We want a sustainable construction workforce to provide opportunities for New Zealanders to train and work in the sector. But that doesn’t happen overnight, which is why we need these changes for the short term.”

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