Connecting New Zealand

Immigration changes show NZ ‘open for business’ once again

12 Dec 2022

After several years of closed borders, government moves to incorporate skilled civil construction trade roles into the Immigration New Zealand Green List can’t come soon enough, say New Zealand’s infrastructure construction contractors.

Civil Contractors New Zealand Chief Executive Alan Pollard welcomed the changes announced by Minister of Immigration Michael Wood, saying the inability to recruit workers from overseas had hamstrung the industry at the very time they were most needed to construct and maintain NZ’s essential infrastructure networks.

“We recently met with the Minister of Immigration and his officials to explain the need for skilled civil tradespeople, who play a vital role in constructing our transport and water networks, alongside our other essential infrastructure like ports and public spaces.

“I’m pleased to see this need for civil tradespeople and site supervisors acknowledged by the minister, and opportunities created for these skilled workers to enter the country and contribute their skills and experience toward constructing our essential infrastructure.”

Mr Pollard said the country’s shortage of skilled civil construction workers was well-documented, and had impacted projects requiring specialist capability and experience. The lack of skilled workers had been the industry’s number one challenge for several years.

While businesses had put a lot of energy into identifying talent and developing people within New Zealand, they had at the same time been severely restricted by closed borders, a small pool of prospective workers and few infrastructure construction training opportunities.

The changes would see Green List pathways for residence for skilled civil construction machine operators, drainlayers, site supervisors and truck drivers – people who often had vital skills and practical knowledge that often went unrecognised.

These skills resulted in good transport, water, internet, energy and other infrastructure networks - all major contributors to a country’s standard of living and quality of life, he said.

“These are rewarding, well-paying jobs with great benefit for our communities. With these changes, skilled civil construction workers now have long term prospects and can build a life for themselves here. I’m really looking forward to seeing the results their contribution brings.”

Skilled civil tradespeople were in hot demand globally, and would be sorely needed to take the pressure off the country’s existing workers and site supervisors, who were often responsible for onboarding and training new workers and ensuring project quality.

While there were still ‘significant improvements’ that could be made to immigration policy, the addition of these pathways for skilled civil construction trade workers alongside skilled civil engineers showed the world New Zealand would be ‘open for business’ once more, with the next step a co-ordinated international 'Destination NZ' campaign to recruit top international talent that leveraged NZ’s global status and international networks, Mr Pollard said.




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