Getting the job done

In Newsletter Editorial5 MinutesBy Gavin MyersOctober 14, 2022

It’s funny how our perception of time works. In the lead up to the government reopening the nation’s borders and restarting the processing of migrant visas, it felt as though the wait couldn’t possibly have taken any longer. Three months on from that ‘return to normal’ and it seems like it all happened just yesterday.

Immigration minister Michael Wood has said that since the Accredited Employer Work Visa opened in July more than 12,000 international migrants have applied for 511 different occupations across New Zealand. At the Transporting New Zealand Road Ahead conference two weeks ago, he also noted that 55,000 job checks had been issued since July and an increasing number of truck driver roles had been applied for.

How many applications have actually been approved, however, seems to be an elusive stat.

And this week, another announcement by Wood that processing of applications in the Skilled Migrant Category would be resumed from November since being placed on hold in 2020.

However, new settings will be introduced during 2023, with proposed changes to supposedly simplify the eligibility, improve processing times and ensure as many applications are processed as possible…

At least an attempt is being made to attract and retain skills, and hopefully further ease labour shortages. A report on NZ Herald today however suggests the transport industry requires a lot more, a lot sooner. Yet, whether the country should’ve been allowed to fall into this situation to begin with is a question that keeps coming to mind. The incumbent administration had an ideal, the country now has a desperate situation.

And so the employment merry-go-round continues to spin, causing dizziness and headaches for the business community, which hasn’t been able to do much about the situation it’s found itself in. Labour continues to top the list of concerns across sectors and how much relief these immigration changes will bring to trucking and transport in particular remains to be seen.

Back to the Road Ahead conference and comments made by other speakers painted a fairly dire picture for the industry. Jonathan Caseley and Byron Terris of non-profit organisation PerformX, commented that 680 industry jobs were left unfilled in 2020, and in 2021 that number increased more than threefold to 2400. They added it equated to a -5.9% shortage in skilled worker supply and an annual GDP cost of $267 million.

If that figure of 2400 seems conservative, the Herald article quotes an industry shortfall of 9000 today…

Never one to be outdone when it comes to issuing a poignant reality check, economist Cameron Bagrie added that in the last 18 months New Zealand has lost at least 20,000 people to migration.

He agreed the biggest business constraint is labour. “This migration exodus, what you’re seeing with the availability of staff, is not a temporary problem. I think it’s part of a 10-year shift.”

So still the industry finds with a labour problem that probably won’t go away soon. And as politicking picks up through 2023, I wouldn’t be surprised if the game changes again.

*Finally, on 2 October I made good on the challenge I’d taken up with Graeme Dingle Foundation’s Drop for Youth fundraiser. I jumped from 12,000ft above Tauranga and I can honestly say, I fully get the idea behind this challenge… When you’re hanging out of a plane about to freefall, it goes against every human survival instinct and is one hellishly daunting prospect.

Doing it, proving how a challenge can be overcome, is an incredibly empowering experience and goes some way to highlight what the foundation tries to impart on the youth it works with every day.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has generously answered my fundraising appeal over the past few months. Any and all support for this cause is immensely appreciated by all involved.

The jump may be overcome, but the fundraiser continues until the end of the year. If you’d like to support the foundation, you can do so here:

Thanks heaps and take care,

Gavin Myers