Extension of Essential Skills Visa

Hospitality and accommodation businesses have welcomed the news that the Government is increasing the duration of Essential Skills visas and streamlining the application process. The sectors have been struggling to find staff, for some operators the labour shortage situation is at a crisis point.

Chief Executive of Hospitality NZ, Julie White noted that the changes will bring more certainty for businesses and employees on Essential Skills visas, which is vital as we wait for the borders to re-open. It is good that the Government is listening to us, this change will help some business operators. Delaying the rollout of the Accredited Employer Work scheme is sensible given the changes to the extensions.

“Before COVID, like other industries, the hospitality industry was reliant on migrant workers. Because of the border restriction, the industry has not had access to the people we need to efficiently run our businesses. The industry is committed to employing more Kiwis; however the reality is, roles like Chefs take years to master and it is going to take time for the industry to transition from its historical reliance on migrants,” commented White.

“Hospitality businesses need their existing essential skills visa holder workers to stay. Having the ability to extend essential skills working visas will provide more certainty for everyone and simplifying applications for those workers wishing to remain in their current roles.”

White went on to explain that at the same time, the sector will do its bit to attract, upskill and train more Kiwis, but warned that 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," continued White.

“Hospitality New Zealand has invested in a globally recognised hospitality learning system TYPSY for its members. TYPSY has up to 1000 micro-courses which employees can access on any device anywhere, anytime.”

The Restaurant Association agreed that the announcement to extend some essential skills visas for a further two years was welcome news for the hospitality sector.

“After months of advocacy, and recent collective action on this issue, today’s decision will provide relief to many hospitality operators, who have battled 18 months of uncertainty,” expressed Restaurant Association CEO, Marisa Bidois.

“We’re pleased the Government has listened to our concerns and acknowledged the pressures felt by businesses across the country, while COVID border restrictions remain in place. We look forward to meeting with Ministers in the coming weeks to further discussions about the future of hospitality in Aotearoa.”