16 Jul 2009

Call to extend low-skilled migration

12:25 am on 16 July 2009

A team of Victoria University academics is calling for greater numbers of low-skilled immigrants to be allowed into New Zealand. Their reports turn traditional immigration policies on their head.

The reports, from Victoria University's Institute of Policy Studies, say an ageing population will require growing numbers of caregivers, mainly from overseas.

Paul Callister, an associate professor at the Institute, says many caregivers these days enter from the Pacific Islands or the Philippines on temporary visas, but this is unsuitable.

Demographic changes are predictable and long term, he says, and need solutions such as permanent immigration.

Professor Callister adds that similar trends are evident in Australia, which will provide competition for New Zealand in attracting immigrants for the care-giving industry.

He says if current policies continue, New Zealand will end up with less than half of the caregivers it needs by the 2030s.

Locals first, says provider

In-home care provider Healthcare of New Zealand says a career path should be established for local workers with basic home-based care as its first step.

The umbrella group for rest homes, Healthcare Providers, agrees more New Zealanders might become caregivers if status and pay were higher but says that would require more Government money.

Chief executive Martin Taylor says many current caregivers are in their fifties and their aging will exacerbate the labour shortage.