As well as an infrastructure deficit, New Zealand also faces an infrastructure skills shortage.
Te Waihanga believes a reopened border and Immigration Rebalance will help address this in the short term while we work together with Government and the sector to develop more enduring solutions.
Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa - the New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy anticipates that New Zealand will be nearly 120,000 construction workers short by 2024. The Strategy recommends a national infrastructure skills plan, which Te Waihanga is now responsible for developing.
The plan will look for ways to fill New Zealand’s infrastructure workforce requirements over the next 15 years and beyond. This will involve understanding how the education system (supporting skill development) should work alongside immigration settings and other interventions to address shortages of critical, specialist skills over the long term.
However we face a skills shortage in construction right now, as we compete with other countries for international talent. For example, we are competing with higher-paying construction jobs in Australia.
The Government’s Immigration Rebalance is expected to help agencies and employers to continue building the infrastructure we need, while developing and growing a long-term workforce.
The green list includes a number of roles that are essential to progress New Zealand’s infrastructure projects. We expect that the streamlined and prioritised pathway to residency this provides will help us to attract international talent to highly-skilled roles in hot demand here - as well as globally.
Alongside this, the proposed construction and infrastructure sector agreement could provide special arrangements for employers to access migrant workers at pay rates below the median wage, provided they meet normal work visa policy and additional requirements.
Over coming weeks, Te Waihanga will support the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment along with the Construction Accord to consult on the construction and infrastructure sector agreement before this is presented to Cabinet for final decisions.
The success of this initiative relies on employers, migrants and government changing and improving their practise. Te Waihanga will follow implementation closely, and continue to provide feedback as needed to make sure these changes work as intended.
Find out more about the reopened border and Immigration Rebalance on the New Zealand Immigration website.(external link)