Teachers, construction managers and cafe and restaurant managers may get fast-track permits to immigrate to New Zealand under a new Government proposal.
The three groups are among 13 jobs proposed to be added to the Essential Skills in Demand list, which makes it easier for employers to hire workers from overseas.
Immigration NZ general manager Stephen Dunstan said adding an occupation to the list meant that employers would not have to show that there were no suitable NZ applicants for jobs, and overseas applicants would be granted work visas.
The building industry and teachers' unions welcomed the proposal in view of severe shortages in both sectors.
Master Builders Federation chief executive David Kelly said he was "very pleased" that the list includes construction project managers and building associates as well as carpenters, glaziers, plumbers, quantity surveyors and stonemasons.
Carpenters are already on the immediate skills priority list, but Ryman Healthcare has applied for them to also go on a long-term priority list which provides a two-year "work-to-residence" visa leading to permanent residence.
Project managers are on both priority lists for roading projects but not for construction projects.
"A lot of the commentary has been around trades skills like carpenters and glaziers, and while that is absolutely true, just as big an issue is those project-manager-type roles," Kelly said.
"We need to make sure that we have not just trade skills but people who are running businesses and projects, because that is where a number of the problems start when inexperienced project managers just don't know how to manage some of the bigger projects."
The Ministry of Education and other sector groups have applied to put primary teachers on both the immediate and long-term priority lists, and to put early childhood and secondary school teachers on the immediate list.
NZ Educational Institute president Lynda Stuart said her union would not oppose adding primary and early childhood education (ECE) teachers to the immediate list.
"While we won't oppose teachers being added to the list for the short term, clearly the quality and sustainability of both primary and ECE workforces are at risk. The ultimate losers will be children and their learning," she said.
She said other solutions could include bringing back bonding schemes for teachers, supporting beginning teachers better and extending student allowances and loan eligibility.
The Post Primary Teachers Association said it would also not oppose secondary teachers being added to the immediate list.
Cafe and restaurant managers are not on any priority list and the Restaurant Association has applied to add them to the long-term list.
Hospitality NZ policy and advocacy manager Nadine Mehlhopt said the industry had been asking for the move for some years. She said it was a misapprehension that "any old body" could run a cafe.
"There is some quite sensitive legislation that needs to be adhered to. There is a requirement that they have to adhere to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, the Food Safety Act and now the Health and Safety in Employment Act.
"It's not just dealing with the staff, but also dealing with customers. They have to be able to deal with young people and old people, people who may complain about things.
"Obviously we would prefer if possible to have New Zealanders first and foremost, but the fact of the matter is we just haven't got them."
She said a survey in 2016 found that only 1 per cent of Hospitality members were able to get a suitable manager through Work and Income, and 32 per cent said it took more than six months to find a suitable manager.
Aged care nurses are already on the immediate priority list. Ryman Healthcare, the Aged Care Association and the NZ Nurses Organisation have asked for them to be added to the long-term list.
The Stonemasonry Association has asked for stonemasons to be removed from the immediate priority list.
However the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which runs Immigration NZ, has not expressed a view on whether any of the 14 occupations should be added to or taken off the lists, and has assessed them all as having only "moderate" evidence of skill shortages.
Jobs listed on the Jobs Online index actually declined in the year to June in 10 of the 14 occupations, and increased only for aged care nurses (up 27 per cent), fitters (up 14 per cent), glaziers (up 11 per cent) and wood machinists (up 10 per cent).
Immigration NZ granted 4684 essential skills visas to people in the 14 occupations in the year to June, including 1962 carpenters, 1043 cafe and restaurant managers and 708 aged care nurses.
The visas granted to aged care nurses represented 240 per cent of the total 284 registered nurses estimated to be employed in aged care, although the ministry noted that this was probably due to classification issues and asked for better information from the industry.
Visas granted in the year to June represented 15 per cent of all existing wood machinists, 13 per cent of carpenters, 7 per cent of stonemasons and 6 per cent of cafe and restaurant managers, but only minimal percentages of the other nine occupations.
The full list of occupations up for review is:
• Carpenter (1962 work visas granted in year to June). On immediate list now. Ryman has applied to add it to long-term list.
• Cafe Manager or Restaurant Manager (1043). Not on either list now. Restaurant Association has applied to add it to the long-term list.
• Registered Nurse (Aged Care) (708). Already on the immediate list. Ryman, Aged Care Association and NZ Nurses Organisation have applied to add it to the long-term list.
• Plumber (143). On list for Canterbury only now. Master Plumbers and Gasfitters and Drainlayers NZ have applied to add it to the immediate list in all regions.
• Secondary School Teacher (127). Not on either list now. Ministry of Education and Montessori have applied to add it to the immediate list.
• Fitter (107). Not on either list now. Timber Industry Association has applied to add it to the immediate list.
• Early Childhood Teacher (106). Not on either list now. Ministry of Education, Early Childhood Council, Te Rito Maioha, Best Start, Kindercare and Montessori have applied to add it to the immediate list.
• Construction Project Manager (97). Not on either list now. Window and Glass Association has applied to add it to immediate and long-term lists.
• Primary School Teacher (86). Not on either list now. Ministry of Education and Montessori have applied to add it to the immediate and long-term lists.
• Glazier (66). On immediate list now in Auckland, Upper North Island, Canterbury/Upper South Island. Window and Glass Association has applied to add it to the immediate list in all other regions.
• Stonemason (61). On immediate and Canterbury lists now. Stonemasonry Association has applied to remove it.
• Quantity Surveyor (60). Already on long-term list. Window and Glass Association has applied to add it to the immediate list too.
• Building Associate (59). Not on either list now. Ryman Healthcare and the Window and Glass Association have applied to add it to the immediate priority list.
• Wood Machinist (59). Not on either list now. Timber Industry Federation has applied to add it to the immediate list.
The proposed list is open for submissions until November 9 and a final list will be issued in January.