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Wellington economy needs immigrants, says Chamber

Wellington economy needs immigrants, says Chamber

The Wellington region needs immigrants and the skills they bring to help keep the momentum in the local economy, says Wellington Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Milford.

He was commenting on the Labour Party’s immigration policy.

“Labour’s policy has a positive focus on higher skills and regional concerns, and no one can disagree with that, but the overall tightening is likely to make it even harder for local businesses to find the skilled staff they want.

“Businesses are constantly telling us their biggest challenge is finding the right staff with the right skills. In particular, our hospitality, IT, and construction sectors are struggling to find good staff, and the more restrictions, the harder it will be for the economy to grow.

“We rely on immigration to meet our employment and economic growth projections, and policies that deliver the reverse will be very damaging, particularly as our population ages rapidly.

“As long as we are short of workers with the right skills then we have no option but to look to immigrants

“We need to keep a close eye on immigration numbers, but we need to keep in mind the skills the economy needs. It’s a matter of getting the balance right because we can’t afford for our businesses to have uncertainty around access to skills.

“Meddling with immigration based on populist rhetoric rather than on sound evidenced based policy do so at their peril because they risk compromising sustainable economic growth.”

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