The recent few weeks have seen a lot of government announcements, be it the changes in immigration policies or the Budget.
However, many people are questioning whether the budget policy ties in with the immigration policy. Since we know that there is a workforce shortage in every sector in New Zealand, will the government's generous funding make any real difference? There is little doubt that no amount of economic stimulation will work if we do not have enough people to do the jobs, as unfortunately is the current case.
If one looks at the new immigration rebalance changes, it doesn't look like NZ will be able to fill critically needed roles any time soon. And undoubtedly, the staff shortages will tend to bring businesses to breaking point.
Indian Weekender spoke to business experts to find their take on the same.
‘Government needs to review migration settings.'
Greg Harford, RetailNZ Chief Executive
“Overall, there wasn't a massive amount in the Budget for retailers. The government has announced that there will be some funding to help combat retail crime, but we need to see more detail.
“One of the biggest issues facing retail is the massive shortage of skilled workers. It's almost impossible to recruit a team for many retailers at the moment. Retail NZ is encouraging the government to review migration settings and speed up the full opening of the border. We would love to see immigration policy settings that recognise the diversity and value that migrants bring both to the economy at large and the retail and hospitality sectors in particular.”
'Our immigration settings must send a positive message.'
Rachel Simpson, BusinessNZ Education, Skills and Immigration Manager
“NZ is at a critical point in our economic recovery. As the rest of the world begins to open up around us, our immigration settings must send a positive message that we are 'open for business' to welcome back migrants at all skill levels. We need a simple, easy to understand and permissive immigration policy that supports economic growth. It's time to welcome back international skills and talent and recognise their significant contributions to our economy and communities.
“The investment in health and climate action in this year’s budget will be appreciated, but businesses are looking for ways to shore up skill shortages, reduce business tax and costs, and more scrutiny of employment changes.”
'There is an immediate need to address ongoing staff shortages.'
Alan McDonald, Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA) head of advocacy and strategy
“The good news in the Budget is that $100m has been allocated for a Business Growth Fund to give SMEs better access to finance. Moreover, the $60 million to boost broadband will also benefit remote businesses, and the extension of the Apprenticeship Boost Initiative and Mana in Mahi is also great. However, as they say, the devil is in the detail, so more information on where the funding is going to go is needed.
“There is an immediate need to address ongoing staff shortages in specific sectors such as engineering, digital, and health sciences. While the recently announced immigration reset targets some of those sectors, we still need to train up more of our people to meet long-term needs. Also, we need to make sure that NZ remains attractive to migrants; otherwise, we will lose skilled workforce to countries such as Australia or Canada.”
‘There needs to be more urgency and flexibility in policies’
Viv Beck, Heart of the City Chief Executive
“Staffing shortages are a major issue facing businesses right now and many of those that have been hit again and again over the last two years due to trading restrictions, are now not able to operate at full capacity due to a shortage of staff.
"There needs to be more urgency and flexibility in policies to bring people in to reduce the pressure on staffing and also to support the return of international students who can help alleviate some of these challenges. We have raised these issues with government agencies as they are extremely concerning and hindering the ability for businesses to recover. A meeting with the Minister of Immigration is being sought.”
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