COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges for New Zealand job seekers, employers and temporary work visa holders. Although the impact is varied across regions, it is evident that more people are now looking for work.
The New Zealand Government has thus taken cognisance of the changing job market and announced changes related to Skills Match Report (SMR) process. These changes have streamlined the SMR process for employers.
As part of these changes, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has created lists of occupations and regions. It is to find out where there is a clear over or undersupply of New Zealanders on Job Seeker Support. The lists have been published on the Work and Income website.
These changes address the requirement of sectors that are experiencing workforce challenges to secure visas for some occupation groups.
The changes are designed to provide a clear signal to employers that visa applications for low-paid roles are unlikely to be successful for occupations where there is an oversupply of available New Zealand job seekers.
The lists are prepared to reference the ANZSCO (Version1.2) codes for each occupation listed. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) will refer to it and assess whether the job offered matches an occupation on the undersupply or oversupply list. Based on this assessment, INZ will determine whether an SMR would be required for employment where salary is below the median wage.
The anticipated scenarios based on the current job market are as under:
Those occupations and regions where there is an undersupply of New Zealand job seekers, employers will now no longer need an SMR. However, these roles would have to be such which pay below the national median wage, currently $25.50 an hour.
Employers however will have to endeavour towards showing that they have genuinely and publicly advertised the role for New Zealanders to have seen it. On being able to deliver such an effort, employers would be able to support a migrant work visa application.
INZ has a system in place that ensures New Zealanders are always first in line for jobs. Once it is well established that the need is genuine and that New Zealanders are not available to meet it, access to migrant workers is enabled.
For occupations and regions on the oversupply list, employers can move straight to engaging with MSD to recruit New Zealand job seekers. This process is in place anticipating that there are New Zealand job seekers on Job Seeker Support available.
Where there is no clarity over whether there is over or undersupply of New Zealand job seekers, employers will follow the current SMR process.
An SMR would still have to be procured from MSD before an employer can hire a migrant earning below the national median wage (currently $25.50 an hour).
The lists of occupations on the over and undersupply framework will be reviewed every three months or sooner if there is a significant change to the labour market. The first review will be in early 2021, and a decision taken by INZ if there is an ongoing need in light of the labour market conditions at the time.
This review, when undertaken, will also be in advance of the implementation of planned reforms to the temporary work visa system (including strengthening of the labour market test).
INZ will use these lists from 7 October 2020. However, during its assessment, INZ will continue to consider SMR for applications submitted before 7 October 2020.
INZ will also use the ANZSCO (version 1.2) to confirm an occupation is on the over or undersupply list. It will also remain necessary for employers to match the job that they are offering to the ANZSCO occupation accurately. This match will be critical during the assessment done by INZ to consider whether the job is on the oversupply or undersupply lists.