13 Jun 2009

We'll need skilled immigrants again, builders' group cautions

5:13 pm on 13 June 2009

A leading builders' group says cuts to skilled immigration are understandable but could cause problems when the recession ends.

The Certified Builders Association represents building interests alongside a rival, the Master Builders Association.

Because of the economic recession 44 occupations have been removed from the list through which foreign workers can be fast-tracked into New Zealand as immigrants. Occupations on the list are those for which there is deemed to be a shortage of skilled workers.

Those no longer wanted include carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers and other construction specialists.

'Work will pick up' when recession is over

The association says it understands the Government has done this to preserve local jobs during the recession.

But chairman Richard Merrifield says there could be a problem if the Government is slow to put these positions back when the recession is over.

At that time, he says, work will pick up and there will be strong competition for skilled workers worldwide.

87 occupations still on the list

Following the Department of Labour's twice-yearly review, 87 occupations remain on the list.

The head of immigration, Andrew Annakin, says the recession has played a part in the removal of typically lower-skilled occupations from the list.

In this time of economic uncertainty, he says, the priority is to employment opportunities for New Zealanders.

Overseas workers can still be hired for jobs not on the list if an employer can show that no suitable local candidates are available.