Migration restrictions to hurt economy - experts

  • 25/10/2016
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse (Simon Wong)
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse (Simon Wong)

Restrictions on migrant residency will hurt the nation's growing economy by keeping out skilled workers employers need, immigration experts say.

Government restrictions were made with good intentions but with a lack of understanding about the impact on business, New Zealand Association for Migration and Investment chairwoman June Ranson says.

Among the changes announced by Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse earlier this month were an increase in the skilled migrant points threshold from 140 to 160, which Business NZ welcomed for its potential to sharpen the annual intake toward higher skilled workers.

But Ms Ranson fears employers will struggle to find tradespeople because the new laws fail to recognise people without university degrees can still be highly skilled based on work or business experience.

"These changes are a political knee-jerk reaction, with little thought given to the growth of New Zealand and the needs of business," she said, calling for an urgent review and discussions with business and migration experts.

Last week Tourism Industry Aotearoa said raising the points threshold from 140 to 160 was worsening the skills shortage, revealing 90 percent of chefs approved for work visas last year would miss out under the new rules.

"Where are these essential workers supposed to come from? There simply isn't an adequate supply in many parts of the country," chief executive Chris Roberts said.