Proposed immigration changes could help stabilise the aged care nursing workforce including improving wages and encouraging upskilling, says NZNO aged care industrial advisor David Wait.
Wait said the changes had widespread implications for nursing as New Zealand had the highest rate of internationally qualified nurses in the OECD at 27 per cent of our nursing workforce.
The proposals announced by Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway this week include introducing a new framework for assessing all employer-assisted temporary work visas. The new framework would be employer-led, rather than migrant-led, and will include checks for:
- Employers – where approval will be granted to an employer to enable them to hire a migrant
- Jobs – to ensure no New Zealander is able to do the job
- Migrants – to ensure they meet character and health requirements.
“The new employer checks will help combat migrant exploitation by lifting the requirements on all employers and enabling the Government to put tougher tests in place for higher risk employers and employers looking to hire multiple migrants,” said Galloway.
Wait said one of the intentions of the proposal was to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on workers from overseas. “And that’s great, but it will also encourage better workforce training for both the domestic and migrant workers we do employ,” said Wait.
The New Zealand Aged Care Association has been lobbying hard for changes to migration laws as one solution to aged care nursing shortages and chief executive Simon Wallace said the Lees-Galloway announcement this week was a step in the right direction.
Wait said migrant workers in aged care made an incredible contribution for which “we should all be grateful”.
Consultation runs until 18 March 2019. Details can be found here.