The New Zealand government has announced that it will be allowing an extra 12,000 working holidaymakers to enter the country in order to help businesses that have been hardest hit by the global worker shortage. The sectors that will benefit from this agreement include aged care, construction, meat processing, seafood, and tourism.
Immigration Minister Michael Wood has announced that:
- the visas of working holidaymakers already in New Zealand with visas expiring between 26 August 2022 and 31 May 2023 will be extended by six months.
- new visas will be issued to existing Working Holiday Visa holders who have yet to arrive, allowing them to enter New Zealand by 31 January 2023.
- the number of visas permitted under capped Working Holiday Schemes will be doubled – a one-off increase to recognise the spots that were unused last year due to the border closure. This will give the ability for up to an extra 12,000 working holiday makers to be able to enter and work in New Zealand.
Hospitality New Zealand has welcomed the government’s decision to allow additional workers to enter the country to work in sectors affected by international labour shortages. Chief Executive Julie White says that even though the doubling of numbers under the Working Holiday Scheme and the extension of visas are temporary, they will make a big difference to hospitality businesses struggling without enough staff.
White says, “Labour shortages are our biggest problem right now. Having access to more staff will definitely help businesses open their doors for more days and for longer each day, and it will help improve the well-being of many owners and operators and their staff who have been working long shifts.”
She added that the changes will kick in just in time for the up-coming summer season, which many businesses will be relying on most heavily after a winter where lack of staff meant they were turning away customers.
“Giving more certainty to workers already here is essential, while the doubling of the Working Holiday Scheme will help, it is no silver bullet, as the reality is, we have a global war on talent. We have to make sure we are an attractive place to come to, and we are open to welcome these visa holders.”
The New Zealand Hotel Association also supports the changes, with President Stephen Hambleton saying that they are a step in the right direction but that more needs to be done in order to address the country’s labour shortage issues.
Hambleton says, “The hospitality industry is struggling to find enough staff to meet customer demand, so we support the government’s decision to allow more working holidaymakers into New Zealand. However, this is only a short-term measure, and we need to find a long-term solution to our labour shortage issues.”
The changes announced by the New Zealand government will come into effect from 26 August 2022.