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Immigration changes to benefit rural Canterbury

Today’s policy announcements around employer-assisted temporary work visa settings will provide welcome relief for some rural Canterbury businesses according to Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Leeann Watson.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway made the announcement this afternoon, following a consultation process from December 2018 that The Chamber completed a submission on.

Three-year visas and renewals provide continuity and confidence to employers and also for workers, says Ms Watson.

"The changes are going to make it easier for some Canterbury employers to get skills faster and keep that skill-base for longer. Canterbury has been impacted by severe skills shortages for many years, so it is positive to see that the new policy on visas recognises the variations in the labour market at a regional level.

"We are particularly pleased for areas such as Ashburton and North Canterbury, who have advocated tirelessly on this issue for a number of years.

"This is a much more effective solution to ensure employers in genuine need are able to access the skills and attributes they need."

Skilled migrants are vital for the regional workforce. Projections produced by ChristchurchNZ show that by 2031, Canterbury could be short 70,000 workers under current scenarios and long-term migration trends.

The ability for a migrant worker to bring their family will also contribute positively to the regions, says Ms Watson.

"When the whole family can settle into the community, they are more likely to stay, as families are the key factor in helping to integrate migrants into the social fabric of our communities. As well as increased staff retention, this means greater diversity in communities, schools and our workforce."

Ms Watson says these policy changes reflect the Government’s willingness to collaborate on key issues affecting industry.

"One of The Chamber’s key focus areas is providing a voice for the Canterbury region to help stimulate future sustainable economic growth for our region in the years ahead. We look forward to continuing to work with the Government to help to ease the transition as these policy changes are rolled out."


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