INZ urged to relax immigration rules for scaffolders

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has been urged to add scaffolders to the list of in demand immigration occupations.

Industry group, Scaffolding Access and Rigging New Zealand (SARNZ), has said that an already hard task of employing suitably qualified scaffolders has been made nigh-on impossible following this month’s devastating earthquakes in the Canterbury region.

“Many of the scaffolds required for industrial, commercial and civil sectors can only be constructed by someone with an advanced scaffold certificate – that’s a legal requirement,” said Graham Burke, chief executive of SARNZ. “That includes the very specialised hung and cantilevered scaffolds required for bridge repairs propping and demolition work.”

Burke is now calling on INZ to add scaffolders to its list of skilled occupations as a matter of urgency.

“Scaffolding is currently included on Immigration’s Immediate Skills Shortage lists but not on its List of Skilled Occupations,” Burke explained.

Should the latter step be taken, then highly skilled scaffolders, including those already working in NZ on temporary visas, would be offered a path to residency as skilled migrants.

New Zealand’s Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, has previously told SARNZ that the Government is not able to add scaffolders to the list as INZ relies on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZCO) to classify occupations.

Scaffolding holds a level 4 classification. A level which does not meet the threshold for skilled migrants.

However, Burke believes that this classification is incorrect.

“The advanced qualification is equivalent to NCEA level five – which means it should fall into level two of ANZCO’s advanced range of qualifications in New Zealand,” he said.

While some employers can bring in migrant workers for occupations not listed on the skill shortage lists, provided suitable New Zealanders are not available, or through the Immigration NZ approved Accredited Employers scheme, Burke believes that this requires resources not available to many smaller employers.

We are not asking Immigration New Zealand to open the floodgates and let hordes of scaffolders flood in from overseas. We are talking only about the most highly qualified and experienced – those at the top of the game,” he added.

Article published 28th November 2016