Midwives are the only health profession to be added to the skills shortage list following Immigration New Zealand’s latest review. Dropped from the lists are dentists and anaesthetists and an attempt to add mental health nurses was unsuccessful.

Immigration Minister Iain Lees Galloway announced the results of the latest Essential Skills in Demand review in mid-December with the revised lists coming into effect in February.

Health professions made up 13 of the 34 occupations reviewed to see whether demand justified them being added or dropped from the Immigration New Zealand’s skills shortage lists.

Employers whose occupations are on the Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) and the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) do not need to go through the labour market process or prove they cannot find a New Zealander for the job.

Seven of the 10 occupations dropped from the two lists were health professions including dentists, anaesthetists, pathologists and renal medicine specialists (see full list below).

The Immigration New Zealand review report on midwife shortages said there was “weak” evidence of a shortage but it also found that a 35 per cent increase in online advertisements over the previous year and only 25 suitable jobseekers was “moderate” evidence of demand and a lack of skilled people to meet that demand.

An attempt was made to get registered nurses specialising in mental health added to the LTSSL with ongoing concerns expressed during the year about unfilled nursing vacancies and reports of some acute mental health units temporarily closing beds because of staff shortages. But while the review report found that online advertisements for all nurses had increased by 19 per cent over the previous year it found that there had been negative employment growth in mental health nurses in the past five years and there was 269 registered nurse jobseekers potentially able to fill vacancies.

Dentists were dropped from the ISSL list despite the review report finding moderate evidence of a lack of suitable job seekers (about 8) for an occupation employing about 1320 people but overall it concluded there was only weak evidence of a shortage.

Once again the continued inclusion of registered nurses (aged care) in the skills shortages list was reviewed with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation arguing for a number of years that the residential aged care sector were due to inferior employment conditions not skill shortages. The review report found “inconclusive information” on whether there was evidence of a shortage. But the high number of visas granted for aged care nurses – 498 Essential Skill visas and 532 skilled migrant category resident visas being approved in the year to April 30 2017 – indicated there was ongoing demand.

Galloway said the removal and addition of occupations was the rest of extensive consultation with industry groups other stakeholders and relevant government agencies, alongside analysis of economic, labour market and immigration data.

“I want to emphasise that employers wanting to bring in migrant workers for occupations not listed on the ISSL or LTSSL can still do so, as long as they can show they’ve genuinely searched for suitably qualified and trained New Zealand workers,” said Lees-Galloway.

Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL)* review results

Removed from LTSSL:
• Anaesthetist
• Pathologist
• Renal Medicine Specialist

Declined to be included on LTSSL:
• Registered Nurse (Mental Health)

Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL)** review results

Added to ISSL:
• Midwife

Removed from ISSL:
• Dental Technician
• Dentist
• Medical Laboratory Technician (Phlebotomy and Histology Technicians)
• Pharmacy Technician

Reviewed but retained on ISSL:
• Cardiologist
• Ophthalmologist
• Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
• Resident Medical Officer

Full review results can be read here.


Health Professions on revised LTSSL* (effective from February 2018)

Clinical Psychologist
Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist
General Practitioner
Medical Radiation Therapist
Medical Laboratory Scientist – including Cytotechnologist
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist
Physicist (Medical)
Physiotherapist
Psychiatrist
Sonographer
Specialist Physician in Palliative Medicine
Surgeon (General)

*LTSSL are occupations identified as having an absolute (sustained and ongoing) shortage of skilled work.

Health Professions on revised ISSL** (effective from February 2018)

Anaesthetic Technician
Cardiologist
Emergency Medicine Specialist
Medical Practitioners (not elsewhere classified)
Medical Technicians (dialysis technician)
Midwife
Ophthalmologist
Paediatrician
Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
Resident Medical Officer
Specialist Physician (General Medicine)
Specialist Physician (not elsewhere classified)

**ISSL are occupations identified as having an immediate shortage of skilled workers either throughout New Zealand or in certain regions.

See more at: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz

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