Hospitality businesses struggling to find trained staff are welcoming a move to extend by two years the Government’s ability to quickly change COVID-related migrant applications and visas settings.
Hospitality NZ Chief Executive Julie White noted that the effect of the Government’s proposal to extend the Immigration (COVID-19 Response) Amendment Bill, which expires in May, through to 2023 will be vital as borders gradually re-open.
“This is particularly relevant alongside yesterday’s announcement of the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble because as more visitors arrive here, hospitality businesses are going to need more staff to meet their needs,” commented White.
“Because the borders have been closed, we have not had access to the people we need to efficiently run our businesses, but from 19 April, when the bubble opens, we expect we will be needing more of them. This bill will allow the Minister to adjust settings as they arise, and that’s exactly what we need to make the most of the opportunities.”
White went on to explain that hospitality businesses need their existing essential workers to stay and will need to bring in extras as the borders open and having the ability to extend visitor and working holiday visas to give everyone more certainty, and waiving some application requirements, will enable that.
“At the same time, the sector will do its bit to upskill and train more Kiwis, but this will take time. Having the immigration lever available, and running more training in parallel, will result in a more resilient and sustainable industry for the future – one that is underpinned with greater workforce skills and capabilities,” White continued.
“These are positive moves that will help the sector get back on its feet. Also helping attract people to work in the sector will be higher hourly rates that will flow from the 1 April rise in the minimum wage.
“Though the sector has been largely misrepresented as low-wage, the latest remuneration survey shows the average hourly wage is above $20, and as that increases over time businesses will find it easier to find the people they need.”