Truck drivers facing removal from NZ immigration lists

Immigration New Zealand (INZ) has hinted that the occupation of truck driving is set to be removed from the Immediate Skills Shortage List (ITSSL) in February.

New Zealand Truck Drivers

The country’s Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, recently said that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment would be working closely with the trucking industry over the coming year to identify skill needs and develop a plan for how to best meet those needs.

Employers who want to bring in migrant workers for occupations not listed on the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) and the ISSL, or in the case of Canterbury, the Canterbury Skill Shortage List, will still be able to do so provided they had “genuinely searched for suitable qualified and trained New Zealand workers“, the minister said.

However, the removal of truck drivers from the ISSL could lead to hundreds of overseas drivers already working in NZ being asked to leave the country – a development that the NZ Truck Association says would have dire consequences for the industry.

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“We have employers with trucks parked up now because they cannot find drivers,” said Suzanne Hubball, the NZ Truck Association’s business development manager. While Hubball agrees that the industry should look to hire NZ drivers first, she said that there are not enough locally qualified drivers, and that training them takes time and money.

“You might have one out of 10 who are any good,” she explained. “Transport operators are expected to take all the risk in training – which costs NZ$3,500 for licences – only to find out the person is no good.”

According to INZ estimates, there are currently 403 overseas drivers working temporarily in New Zealand.