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EMA Says Immigration Changes Might Have Unintended Consequences

The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) says that the immigration changes announced by the government over the weekend will still cause concerns for some employers and could result in difficulties in filling key roles.

EMA Head of Advocacy Alan McDonald says while unemployment has started to rise with the slowing economy, many businesses are still struggling to find the skilled and experienced workers that they need.

"New Zealand still has shortages of truck drivers, health care workers and construction workers, while not going ahead with placing occupations such as welders and fitters and turners on the Green List could cause some shorter-term issues while employers find and train up suitable local staff," says McDonald.

"We are supportive of ensuring we are bringing in the right workers, and that they are not exploited, but we do need to make sure we get the balance right.

"Making it harder for motivated workers to come into New Zealand means they will go somewhere else, that hurts business and means our economy misses out.

"The reality is our population is aging rapidly, is highly educated and we are losing many young people to Australia. As a result, we don’t have the workers to do some of the jobs that are unfairly categorised as unskilled.

"These jobs make an important contribution to our economy, and we still need them. This latest round of changes further highlights the need to settle on a stable, long-term migration policy.

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"Continual tinkering with the current settings is off-putting for potential skilled migrations considering New Zealand and confusing for employers who are trying to do the right thing but struggling to keep up with the rules.

"Net migration rates were very high in the last year, and this was the result of the migration system playing catch-up following the closure of the border during the pandemic. But the government’s own forecast showed that they were going to fall back towards the long-term average over the next couple of years," says McDonald.

"Measures to reduce potential exploitation are welcome and reducing the costs to employers is also good timing."

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