Businessman Rodney Wayne has again sparked debate about migration and skills shortages and says suggestions the hair salon industry pays poorly or has a bad attitude towards young women taking maternity leave are way off.
He said home salons, a change in attitudes to work and a major skills shortage made the last year or so the most difficult time for the industry in at least 50 years.
Wayne told the Herald the industry had predominantly hired young women for a long time.
When they went on maternity leave or chose not to return to the sector, new staff had to be found - but he said red tape under the current system was costing a fortune and wasting time.
RNZ earlier quoted Wayne as saying: “We predominantly hire females, who go and have babies and have changes - the Government keep telling them, ‘if you don’t feel like coming to work, don’t’.”
Wayne said during lockdown and the pandemic era, some policies effectively rewarded people for staying at home.
He told the Herald suggestions Kiwis weren’t entering the industry because it did not pay well were just wrong.
“We have to start them on $29 or $30 an hour. We have stylists who are earning more than $100,000 [annually].”
He said under the accredited employer visa scheme, his salons had to pay about $2000 each time someone from offshore was brought over.
Franchisees had to pay more under the scheme than stand-alone businesses, he said.
Immigration New Zealand’s website showed franchisee accreditation cost $1980, but “standard accreditation” for up to five migrants at any one time cost $740.
Wayne said despite challenges, his company was likely training more hairdressers than any other in the country.
He said the Labour Government had done a less-than-ideal job of responding to staffing shortages, but he expected things to improve under the new Government.
“I’m very confident, mate.”
A year ago, Wayne raised concerns about a widespread barber and salon sector labour crisis.
The Labour-led administration at the time said worker shortages were a persistent global problem as countries started recovering from Covid-19, but it was working on solutions.
Today, Wayne said many migrants were still keen to come to New Zealand and fill vacancies, but he was yet to see evidence many in the sector were getting through from overseas.
He said some people who’d left salons during the pandemic now operated businesses from home.
“They started hairdressing at home. They don’t pay GST. It was a joke.”
Wayne said some people who received bad haircuts at makeshift home salons were now returning to salons, and despite the turmoil in recent years, he was confident things were looking up for the industry.