Many tourism employers around New Zealand and their highly-valued employees on work visas will be delighted and relieved by the announcement that Essential Skills Visas are being extended.
Today (Friday, July 16) Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced that two-year Essential Skills visas are available from Monday.
For someone already in a full-time role and wishing to stay with that employer, the application process will be greatly simplified. A work visa holder can also move to a new employer if a Labour Market test shows there are no suitable New Zealanders available for that role.
Welcoming the news Tourism Industry Aotearoa Chief Executive Chris Roberts said: “Tourism businesses from accommodation and hospitality to transport and activity operators are facing real challenges in filling vacancies.
“Employers don’t want to lose the great people they already have. And today’s announcement gives skilled and trained migrant workers who have chosen New Zealand as their temporary home some security.
“TIA applauds the Government for listening to business concerns.”
Mr Roberts says the decision to delay the introduction of the new accredited employer work visa scheme from November 1 until the middle of next year is sensible.
“TIA has long supported this change to the system but giving employers more time to get accredited is helpful.”
TIA also welcomes the Government’s support for local council infrastructure projects, with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash’s announcement this morning of the recipients of the latest round of Tourism Infrastructure Fund grants.
Mr Roberts is a member of the TIF assessment panel which made recommendations to the Minister and says dozens of communities across Aotearoa will be delighted that local amenities will be upgraded and supplemented with the support of the TIF.
“These improved amenities will serve locals, domestic visitors and when borders do reopen, international visitors.
“The tourism industry is still a long way from recovery but with Government support, we look forward to once again making a strong contribution to the economy and wellbeing of Aotearoa.”
On the news Hospitality New Zealand says the hospitality and tourism sectors have been struggling to find staff, and for some operators, the labour shortage situation is at crisis point.
HNZ Chief Executive Julie White says the changes will bring more certainty for businesses and employees on Essential Skills visas, which is vital as we wait for the borders to re-open. It is good that the Government is listening to us, this change will help some business operators. Delaying the rollout of the Accredited Employer Work scheme is sensible given the changes to the extensions.
She said: “Before COVID, like other industries, the hospitality industry was reliant on migrant workers. Because of the border restriction, the industry has not had access to the people we need to efficiently run our businesses. The industry is committed to employing more Kiwis, however the reality is, roles like Chefs take years to master and it is going to take time for the industry to transition from its historical reliance on migrants.
“Hospitality businesses need their existing essential skills visa holder workers to stay. Having the ability to extend essential skills working visas will provide more certainty for everyone and simplifying applications for those workers wishing to remain in their current roles.
“At the same time, the sector will do its bit to attract, upskill and train more Kiwis, but this will take time.