Business NZ urges New Zealand government to do more to attract immigrants

07 September 2012


Business NZ, a leading pro-business lobby group in New Zealand, says that there are many vacancies in the New Zealand economy that need filling. It has called on the government to do more to attract migrants to fill those posts.

Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said that almost every sector required skilled workers and said the government was not doing enough to attract the immigrants needed to fill vacancies. At present, Mr O'Reilly said, the government focuses on the quality of life in New Zealand in its efforts to attract skilled workers. Mr O'Reilly said that the focus should be moved to emphasise the business opportunities that immigrants will find. 'An immigrant who comes to work in a small business might very well end up owning it,' he said.

Mr O'Reilly also urged the government to take a more proactive approach to attract overseas workers; 'Instead of going out to potential migrants to say 'here are our programs', they should say, 'if you want help, come and talk to us,' he said.

The New Zealand government recently launched its 'Skillfinder' website which matches people interested in immigration to employers with vacancies. Mr O'Reilly admitted that 'this is a fantastic example of removing those roadblocks' but said much more must be done.

Peter Townsend, chief executive of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Mr O'Reilly that the bureaucracy that stands in the way of immigrants must be reduced. He also said more must be done to ensure that immigrants thrive when they arrive in the country.

Christchurch, the major city of the Canterbury Region, was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2011. The New Zealand government has said that the rebuilding of Christchurch will be the biggest challenge the country has ever faced. Last week, Nathan Guy, the New Zealand Immigration Minister, said that the government had already issued 300 temporary work visas to workers with skills needed in the rebuild. Mr Townsend said more must be done; 'there is a general awareness we need to reduce the bureaucratic process, ensure the processes are as business friendly as possible'. He added that the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce ran a settlement programme to help skilled workers and their families to integrate into the community.

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