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Seasonal work permit pilot extended 12 months

15 September 2006

Seasonal work permit pilot extended 12 months

An extension to the seasonal work permit pilot means a pool of increasingly experienced workers will be available to the horticulture and viticulture industries, says Immigration Minister David Cunliffe.

"I'm pleased to announce the extension of the seasonal work permit pilot to September 2007.

"This extension ensures workers who have already gained skills and employment can continue to provide labour in areas of absolute labour shortages, and a new pool of workers is available to meet ongoing need," Mr Cunliffe said.

"Employers will be able to draw on pool of workers with industry experience and enjoy the productivity gains this brings."

The seasonal work permit pilot was originally launched in December 2005 as a further avenue to help meet the industry's peak season labour needs.

Under the extension to the pilot, current permit holders can apply to renew their permits for a total of up to nine months.

New applicants can apply for permits for a total of up to six months.

"Over 3,000 seasonal work permits have been issued since December 2005 and industry feedback shows that this is an effective source of labour.

"The Department of Labour is endeavouring to provide a responsive, fast and efficient service to help meet the immediate labour needs of one of our most vital industries. We want to achieve this while ensuring the employment, training and up-skilling of New Zealanders remains a top priority and the employment conditions in the industry are attractive to local labour.

"Ongoing assessments by the Ministry of Social Development mean we have a clear picture of labour supply in each region and are able to add or remove regions throughout the course of the pilot.

" Western Bay of Plenty, Marlborough, and Central Otago are the regions currently declared as experiencing extreme labour shortages. This means they have been unable to recruit Kiwis to fill labour shortages, which is why overseas workers are necessary."

Background information on the Seasonal Work Permit pilot:

In December 2005 a seasonal work permit (SWP) pilot was launched. Permits were available to workers in areas of the horticulture/viticulture industry experiencing extreme labour shortages. Permits were originally valid until July 2006. Under an extension to the policy in March 2006, permits were granted to allow a maximum stay of up to 30 September 2006.

The pilot is now being extended to 30 September 2007.

Under the extension to the pilot, current permit holders can apply to renew their permits for a total of up to nine months.

New applicants can apply for permits for a total of up to six months.

Applicants must either be:

·from visa-free countries and be on a current temporary permit in New Zealand ·from visa-required countries and be on a current temporary permit on 15 September 2006.

As with other work permit applications, SWP applicants must meet health and character requirements in order to be successful.

ENDS

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