New Zealand’s Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, has said that the government will continue to look at ways of promoting the hiring of Kiwi workers ahead of bringing in skilled workers from overseas.
Speaking at country’s annual Immigration Law Conference, Minister Woodhouse revealed that while the country is still very much open to skilled immigrants, it will only be those who have something to offer New Zealand that are selected to come to the country.
“There is little doubt that in order to achieve the Government’s Business Growth Agenda we will need workers from overseas to fill gaps in our labour market, but successive Governments have had ‘Kiwis first’ migration policies and my Government is no different,” he explained. “Indeed I plan to strengthen the application of that principle. Jobs for New Zealanders will always come first and the current debate about the level of migrant labour in our workforce has raised a number of issues for me.”
He continued: “In the future I expect industries that are successful in having an occupation added to a Skills in Demand List, or an employer granted an Approval in Principal to employ temporary migrant labour will, as a condition of the continuation of that status, be more energetic in working with the Government to find a long term solution, and be more diligent in demonstrating to me that they are doing all they can to ease their labour shortages domestically.
“I won’t constrain a firm’s ability to grow, but I will be encouraging them to invest in New Zealanders by up skilling and training them so they have an opportunity to maximise their potential.”
The Minister also said that more needed to be done to make those migrants who do settle in the country feel more welcome.
“When it comes to immigration policy the simple fact is this: We are competing in a global market; for talent, investment, tourists, students and temporary labour to augment our workforce and rebuild Canterbury and we have to have an edge that encourages people to choose to come to New Zealand ahead of other nations competing in that market.
“We have to do more to ensure that migrants who do come here are treated properly. The fundamental and overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights and obligations as New Zealanders.”