The changes to immigration policy in Canterbury announced by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse last week are great news for employers in the region. Many more migrants will be needed over the next few years to supplement the New Zealand workforce. There simply are not enough New Zealanders to do the job. The Government has recognised the need to reduce the red tape for employers when recruiting and employing migrants for the rebuild. These changes are designed to increase labour market flexibility, make it easier for employers to recruit and retain workers, and reduce the possibility of migrant exploitation.
One of the significant policy changes is employees being able to change employers without having to apply for a Variation of Conditions (VOC) on their visa. There is a clear benefit to this change. The process of applying for a VOC is currently an impediment to both employees and prospective employers in the fast-paced rebuild environment. It may, however, increase the possibility of migrants ‘jumping ship’ if they are offered better wages or conditions of work elsewhere, leaving the employer who invested money, time and resources into recruiting them, feeling frustrated and ripped off. Canterbury businesses should continue to put energy and resources into supporting the migrants they are employing. It’s not just about pay; good employment practices and pastoral care support will go a long way to retaining quality staff.
Retaining new migrant employees and settling them into the region can be a challenge, and one that needs to be mastered if the rebuild is to continue to move forward at a good pace. There is free Immigration New Zealand funded support available at CECC via the Skilled Migrant Business Services team. Contact them to see how they can provide you with advice, information and practical resources and tools so you can support these valuable new employees.
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