Migrant ECE teachers and their union have welcomed the news of a one-off residence visa announced today, saying it is a sensible step towards addressing the ECE teacher shortage.
However, NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says it's ironic that while teachers are on the skills shortage list and are therefore eligible for the visas, the Government's slow progress on pay parity means most would not have met the income criteria on its own because they earn less than $27 an hour.
Alongside other eligibility criteria, applicants for the new scheme either have to work in a role on a "scarce list" or earn at or above the median wage ($27).
President Liam Rutherford says "These teachers are desperately needed due to a skills shortage in the sector. So it's ironic they are not valued enough to be paid even the median wage for their critically important work with our youngest children.
"ECE teachers across the board do not feel valued. The government's backpedaling on pay parity this month will only exacerbate the number of teachers leaving the sector and the low numbers of people going into ECE teacher training.
"This is why we need an urgent commitment to fund pay parity for ECE teachers with their colleagues doing the same work with the same responsibilities and professional requirements working in kindergarten and schools."
ECE teacher Stanley Zhang says "It is a huge relief to know that we have certainty for our pathway to residency. My colleagues and I love living in New Zealand and working at the centres we do, but the last year or so has been extremely difficult.
"The long wait time for a response from Immigration New Zealand on top of the slow progress on pay parity makes ECE teachers wonder if we are valued for our work."