Dalziel eases labour market test

Companies seeking scarce IT workers from overseas no longer need to prove that there are no locals that can do the job.

Companies seeking scarce IT workers from overseas no longer need to prove that there are no locals that can do the job.

Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel says a work permit self-certification scheme that has been running in Auckland is now being rolled out nationally.

And to help immigrants already here, the Auckland Chamber of Commerce is to develop a database to match immigrant skills with job vacancies.

The moves follow the government planning to attract another 10,000 skilled workers into New Zealand to ease skills shortages.

Dalziel says there are now certain job categories where the “labour market test” does not apply. Previously, firms had to advertise posts to prove to immigration that there were no New Zealanders available to do them, before work permits could be granted to foreigners. Now a list of occupations and classes are updated every three months showing exemptions to the test.

The list presently includes IT workers and health specialists throughout New Zealand, boat builders in Auckland and South Island dairy workers.

“This should be a significant benefit to the IT industry. It will speed up decision times, which is good for business,” the minister told Computerworld.

The government is also working with the Information Technology Association, Industry New Zealand and employers to attract the right kind of immigrants, she says. Roadshows in countries like India were already seeing people move here and the government would show closer interest in matching immigrant skills with available jobs. Pilot schemes to help immigrants settle are also underway.

Dalziel says people have to realise New Zealand is in a global market, which is why some immigration is necessary. However, immigration was only a short-term solution to skills shortages, she says. Long term, employers and the government have to increase training.

The government already has initiatives to boost education. Modern apprenticeships have been introduced and Education Minister Steve Maharey is pledging better careers advice, so young people know better where the jobs are, she says.

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett says he plans to launch a database of migrant skills and job vacancies in March, covering IT and other sectors.

Migrants would register themselves, including by internet, and the chamber would print the job skills available to the marketplace. “There would also be business networking and related support for people to start their own businesses,” he says.

Barnett also welcomed the end of the labour market test for certain skills, saying it would gives businesses more flexibility in recruiting scarce workers.

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