Bosses see need for migrants' skill
The lure of the Australian dollar and an aversion to menial work were two of the reasons Southland employers wanted to tap into the foreign market for workers, an immigration forum was told in Invercargill last week.
Employers who were interested in employing migrant workers were invited to a free Immigration New Zealand information session outlining the steps to recruit and employ migrants.
Immigration NZ relationship manager Craig Walsh outlined the different visa options to more than 40 employers and immigration agents.
Gore Transport Repairs' Jason Popplewell said he attended because there was a shortage in skilled labour in the mechanical trade industry.
"The industry is losing skilled workers to Australia so it is time to start looking at other options," he said.
The haemorrhage of skilled Southland workers for the big dollars in Australia was also highlighted by Invercargill-based company DN Brown Engineering.
Owner Jim Ridley said he could not blame the "young people" for chasing the money.
"If they head overseas they can be on $100,000 in the first year after an apprenticeship," he said.
"We need to look at bringing more skilled workers in and the only way this can happen at the moment is with foreign workers."
It was not a lack of skilled workers but a lack of desire by New Zealanders to do menial work that was hurting the dairy and service industries, Mr Walsh was told.
Dairy farmers said luring New Zealand workers to the industry was already difficult because of the menial nature of the work.
An immigration policy of hiring New Zealanders before employing foreign workers was adding to the frustration, one dairy farmer said.
"We need workers but are running into problems getting people with suitable basic skills such as a driving licence," she said.
A licence was a requirement of the job to get between sheds but farmers were being told they had to hire an unlicensed Kiwi before considering a migrant worker, the farmer said.
A cleaning firm owner said he struggled to find New Zealanders who wanted to do the work he offered. "I have employed several foreign workers and they do a great job but because the work is not considered skilled enough it makes it hard for them to qualify for permanent residency," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News