Bay of Plenty businesses are among the 25,000 to 30,000 businesses nationwide hoping to "get the workers they need" after changes to temporary work visas were announced in Rotorua today.
Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway announced the plans during a visit to Cantabria Rest Home.
They include introducing an employer-led framework, negotiating and introducing sector agreements to plan for future workforce needs and reinstating the ability for lower-paid workers to bring their families to New Zealand.
"It will make the process of hiring a foreign worker easier and more straightforward. It will also provide more certainty for employers due to upfront checks, while also increasing expectations on employers to train and employ more New Zealanders.
"The new employer-assisted temporary work visa process is more streamlined and less complex, replacing six visa categories with one temporary work visa, and it ensures there is an employer check, a job check and a worker check," Lees-Galloway said.
#BREAKING: Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is in Rotorua announcing national changes to temporary work visas. Full story here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/rotorua-daily-post/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503438&objectid=12268379Posted by Rotorua Daily Post on Monday, 16 September 2019
Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said the sector had been lobbying central government for years about issues recruiting and retaining migrant workers.
"The immigration settings haven't been supportive for us to be able to do that, so today's announcement is a big step forward."
Seventy-five per cent of the aged care workforce were New Zealanders, but finding enough staff for the growing ageing population was "very challenging".
"We need 1000 extra caregivers, each and every year for the next 10 years, to look after older New Zealanders."
Cantabria Lifecare's national care and village manager Robyn Filipo is based in Rotorua.
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She said in other parts of New Zealand, skill shortages were affecting the care delivered, but Rotorua was "extremely lucky" not to have this problem to date.
"Because we have a teaching environment just up the road from us [at Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology], we do have a lot of people coming to Rotorua particularly because they are enrolled in their courses up there."
She said most people seeking temporary work visas through employment at Cantabria were registered nurses in their home country and worked as carers before becoming registered in New Zealand, too.
Shehzad Raja, a licensed immigration adviser in Rotorua, said the new policies needed to be "migrant-friendly" when put into action.
"By this, I mean that Immigration New Zealand's decision making needs to be consistent."
He said the majority of migrants on temporary work visa holders in Rotorua supported the hospitality, forestry, and healthcare industries.
"The majority of people coming into hospitality I see here are Chinese and Indian, the forestry workers tend to be from the Pacific Islands, and the healthcare temporary visa holders are normally from the Philippines or India."