Wednesday, 21st April, 2021
The big news of the week was the return of trans-tasman flights to Queenstown, and a big shout out to Colin Keel and his team at the airport who threw a great welcome party. It has been a long time between drinks, 387 days as Adrienne Young-Cooper QAC Chair said to us on Tuesday.
The prospect of more people has brought our workforce shortages into sharp relief, reinforced by the latest undersupply list released by MSD (view here). We have been working with a number of agencies in the employment and immigration space and will continue to do so for the benefit of members. While there is an aspiration to employ Kiwis, we face the reality that there just aren't enough to go around and "growing your own" will take time.
As part of supporting our tourism, hospitality and retail businesses, we have worked with QRC and MSD to develop the pilot Train, Retain, Regain programme as one tool in the toolkit to help businesses support capability growth in existing staff and provide confidence in recruitment while uncertainty remains over demand for services for the rest of the year. This initiative provides employers the opportunity to receive a wage subsidy for NZers and permanent resident staff members while they access fully subsidised training in a range of areas. You can find out more about eligibility, training availability and register your interest here.
On maintaining and building our migrant workforce, the Government released the Immigration COVID-19 response Bill on 8 April for submissions. This bill extends the repeal date of the Government's temporary powers relating to visas in response to the COVID-19 outbreak by 2 years, to the close of 15 May 2023. It also extends the maximum duration of a suspension in the ability of certain offshore persons to make temporary entry class visa applications from 3 months to 6 months.
Our view is that the Bill is necessary at this time to continue to manage through the Covid response, including continuity of the existing provisions currently in place. However, we have a strong expectation that:
- the broader work of ensuring that the border, immigration and health related systems work coherently to facilitate safe and timely travel should be prioritised,
- work must begin on a more in-depth Immigration Act 2009 review; and
- Immigration must improve its service delivery to effectively implement any provisions put in place under the Bill.
We are advocating strongly for regional immigration settings to support all our businesses in meeting demand and delivering an exceptional customer experience to support Brand NZ. We will keep you informed as these discussions progress.