Any adjustment to New Zealand's immigration rules which reduced in-demand skills will have serious implications for businesses, says BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope.

If New Zealand could not supply the skilled people needed to help businesses grow, they had to import those skills. Cutting back on immigration would reduce the supply of labour, stopping growth and hurting the economy.

Hope took issue with a recent Salvation Army report which claimed young unemployed New Zealanders were not getting employment opportunities because of unfair competition from migrant workers.

The report "What Next -- Addressing New Zealand's Youth Unemployment" said 75,000 unemployed New Zealanders would take work if it was available.


"This number is incorrect as official statistics show job-seeker unavailability -- rather than work unavailability -- [which] means the number of young New Zealanders available for work is far less than the 75,000 claimed."

Ministry of Social Development analysis of 70,000 unemployed New Zealanders in April 2016 showed that when corrected for unavailability factors, only about half of the number could be regarded as actually being available for work, he said.

Inviolability factors included not being available for full-time work and not having a drivers licence. Other factors included not being able to pass a drug test.

Asked whether the debate around immigration rules would hurt businesses, Hope said it would not do any damage but changes made without research into the consequences would hurt economic growth if businesses could not expand and grow.