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Immigration Blog

REGULAR POSTS FROM NEW ZEALAND & AUSTRALIA

Posts with tag: Unemployment rate

Immigration Blog

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A Perfect Storm

Posted by Myer on Nov. 12, 2021, 10:04 a.m. in Australia economy

Our Prime Minister plans to open the Australian border to foreign skilled workers before year end but whether that in itself is sufficient to satisfy the growing skill shortages in Australia remains to be seen.

The economy is expected by the Reserve Bank of Australia to bounce back strongly expecting 5.5% growth next year. Unemployment rate is presently at 4.6% and increased demand for skills in Australia has put pressure on wage inflation and this coupled with rapid increases in house prices have led to inflationary concerns with many of the banks starting to increase rates for fixed term mortgages.

The skills shortage has been exacerbated by the fact that we haven’t had skilled migration for the past 18 months and scores of foreign workers left Australia at the onset of Covid and border restrictions. To compound the skills shortage many young professional Australians are relishing the opportunity of being able to work overseas on working holiday visas and it’s going to lead to a mass exodus of skills in Australia over the next few months.

There were nearly 600,000 fewer temporary visa holders in Australia in December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, as migrants returned home following the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of the international borders - many of whom were international students, some on temporary work visas and working holiday visa holders. Australia not only lost these people but the skills they were contributing to the Australian economy.

There are so many articles in publications such as the Australian Financial Review dealing with skill shortages that I’m confident the government is aware of the shortages and have given consideration as to how to facilitate importation of skills to redress these shortages. There are lots of encouraging words from the Treasurer and Prime Minister (including importantly in my opinion using the words ‘welcoming’ skilled migrants and international students back… welcoming I think is a strong signal about perceived value by the host Australia). 

Unfortunately none of the detail relating to their planning has been released but perhaps they can be forgiven, the Prime Minister has had a lot on his plate of late with a spat with the French over a cancelled submarine deal and trying to develop a carbon r reduction program that would appease its coalition partner and seem to be tackling climate change.

The only recent immigration announcement made of late was the fact that Hong Kong passport holders and BNO passport holders would be given pathways to obtaining permanent residence if they work in metropolitan Australia for four years or regional Australia for three years. Australia is essentially just making good on a promise made last year to provide pathways for Hong Kong citizens to progress to permanent residence. Initially they were eligible for five year student or work visas and the recent legislation made in October 2021 provides them with the pathway to permanent residence.

Whilst they (and their skills) are going to be a welcome addition to Australia, we very much doubt whether that in itself will make a significant difference to skill shortages. Many of them will be young students with limited work experience seeking to study in Australia, then graduate to working visas before working in Australia and ultimately acquiring permanent residence.

I also doubt that the thousands of general skilled migration visa applications that have been lodged with the Department but not yet processed would satisfy the growing skill shortage but it would be a useful start. The government has been loath to process these applications over the past 18 months because of border restrictions (they didn’t want to put further pressure on the limited quarantine facilities available in Australia for new arrivals) but it would be a good starting point.

There also hasn’t been any announcement made in regard to those who have been patiently waiting overseas on provisional visas that have already been granted but who were unable to enter Australia because of border restrictions. Only certain people such as Australian citizens, spouses of Australian citizens and permanent residents were allowed to enter Australia because of border restrictions, as well as those 44 occupations that comprise the priority skilled occupations list.

Provisional visa holders need to satisfy certain conditions to progress to permanent residence such as living and working in regional Australia for a certain time during the validity of their visas. I’m sure that many would feel much more comfortable about making plans to migrate to Australia if a decision had been made to extend the validity of those visas.

State governments might also want to start producing lists of occupations that they intend to sponsor for overseas workers. At present there is only one state sponsoring overseas applicant’s namely South Australia.

If the other states are to follow South Australia’s lead we are going to see a change in the type of applicant sponsored with greater emphasis upon years of work experience in the nominated occupation and better English-language scores.

While the incentive to provide favourable sponsorship opportunities to international students is a great prop to the Australian tertiary education system, often graduates will not have the skills or experience to satisfy the needs of Australian employers. For this reason we suspect states will be eager to attract more overseas talent to help fill their critical skills needs.

There are so many occupations required in Australia it would provide a misleading impression to focus on just one occupation, but the occupation of accountant is interesting. For years we had been told that Australia was overrun by accountants. Many of these accountants were in fact young students who came to study in Australia and traditionally the occupation was given a relatively easy passage to progress from temporary visas to permanent resident visas.

Fast forward 18 months and we are told that there is a dire shortage of accountants in Australia with many seeking to leave Australia because of higher salaries overseas, facilitated by the Australian working holiday schemes that allow young Australians to live and work abroad.

An announcement on the part of the government as to how it plans on welcoming back skilled migrants and foreign students would be timely as it would allay the fears of a growing number of employers in Australia that they will have access to the overseas skills necessary to operate and grow.


Fortune favors the bold…

Posted by Paul on Nov. 5, 2021, 10:03 a.m. in New Zealand Politics

There is no doubt that the last five weeks in New Zealand has been a pretty busy and very interesting time in the immigration space..

Just over a month ago, the Minister announced what is probably the biggest and most generous Visa plan, in living memory – a plan to give virtually everyone in New Zealand on a Work Visa the ability to secure Residence. There were are a few categories of people who didn’t make the cut but with the projected number of 165,000 being eligible, there weren’t many people left out in the cold.

Following that we have seen the Government facing up to the reality that our current border system doesn’t work and whilst we haven’t lifted the lid entirely, there are clear signs and calls for it to be changed. MIQ stays will very soon become shorter, more countries will be added to the list that can dodge MIQ entirely and there is an appetite now for people who arrive here fully vaccinated to eventually be able to camp out at home instead of in a Government run facility.

On the periphery of all of that but directly linked to it, is yesterday’s announcement that our unemployment level has plummeted to 3.4% which is half a percent lower than pre-pandemic levels and a number not seen for many years. Whilst unemployment has been falling, the number of new jobs continues to increase with recent additions hitting 54,000. The obvious question now is who will do the jobs that we are creating and it is a question that is placing an enormous amount of pressure on our current political leaders (I use the word ‘leaders’ loosely).

You might be wondering, particularly if you are offshore and yet to start the process, what all of this means for you. Well, it means, potentially very good things.

In terms of the newly minted 2021 Resident Visa category, which hit the headlines at the end of September and has now been formalized within the rules, there is a somewhat hidden but very real opportunity for some of you outside of New Zealand keen to make a life new here. Whilst the new Resident Visa option was primarily targeted at those onshore who hold existing Work Visas and meet certain skill, scarcity or settlement criteria, there is also an opportunity for certain skilled individuals to get here before July 2022 and take advantage of this new pathway as well.

The Critical Purpose Visa process was set up to allow specific occupations (namely healthcare) to be able to secure Visas and border exemptions despite the current pause for offshore Visa processing. It involves two steps and requires an offer of employment that meets the definition of “critical” as well as the applicant being suitably qualified to undertake the work, which might include, as an example, being registered to work as a nurse.

For anyone who works in particular healthcare roles (and the list is fairly broad) who is able to secure an offer of employment in New Zealand and arrive here on a Critical Purpose Visa before July 2022, they will also have the opportunity to apply for Residence under this new category.

Considering there is no points test under this new category, nor any need for English, very low medical criteria and crucially no age cap, this could provide some of you with an opportunity to make the move that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Let me repeat that in case it didn’t sink in – no points, no English and no limit on age.

You do have to meet certain criteria in regards to the role you secure, so it isn’t for one and all, but if you work in healthcare (and can become registered here, if that is required for your profession) then there is a good chance you might qualify.

If you combine that with the fact that unemployment is now at levels not seen for 14 years and most of our health industry is falling over itself to find more staff, then with the right strategy and approach, this limited time offer might be the best chance you have of getting in to New Zealand. This also means that the 60-year-old, qualified and registered Nurse who would ordinarily not be able to migrate to New Zealand, now potentially can.

There are also other critical workers that can consider this option, although the list of those and the criteria is a lot more limited, so really this advantages those in healthcare over pretty much every one else.

However, if you aren’t a Nurse or Psychologist and perhaps you’re better with numbers or computers or car engines, the events of the last few months should give you a good reason to be encouraged as well.

There is no doubt that New Zealand has approached the latter stages of this pandemic by retreating in to its shell and that has seen borders remaining closed for far longer than necessary, which we suspect has cooled interest in those looking to make the move.

However, there are strong signals that not even this overly cautious Government can ignore and a plummeting unemployment number, rising job vacancy numbers and employers screaming out for skilled labour on a daily basis are amongst the strongest. Low unemployment is a good economic indicator for a strong economy, until it isn’t. When you reach the levels New Zealand has, the negative impacts start to surface – businesses can’t grow, they can’t fulfil future work, projects start to grind to a halt and costs go up (everywhere).

Myself and my colleagues have no doubt that over the next few months the pressures that have come to bear on the Government will be too immense for them to ignore. That should (and we believe will) lead to further revisions of border settings, to allow a greater number of people in to fill those skill gaps.

Only last week, it was pointed out on multiple occasions that there is a painful irony in the fact that someone in NZ who has Covid can isolate at home, yet a New Zealander or skilled worker stuck offshore who has been fully vaccinated and tests negative has to take their chances with the MIQ lottery.

Our friends across the ditch have also lead the way and one might say caused a little bit of embarrassment here. Australia with lower numbers of people fully vaccinated than New Zealand has is opening up to the rest of the world, with international flights arriving in to the country as early as yesterday. They also have a strong desire to restart their migration engines, appreciating that migrants bring various and very significant contributions – all of which will be vital in the post pandemic world.

The cracks in all of New Zealand’s precautionary Covid measures that may have been necessary a year or 18 months ago are now big enough you could fly a 747 full of migrants through them – A 747 that might be bound for Australia who are pulling out ahead of New Zealand and I am confident we will want to catch up.

For those of you who work in healthcare and are qualified and able to sell your skills to an eager employer here, there has never been a better time to try. With the new 2021 Resident Visa offering a simplified pathway to stay here permanently and a desperate need for your skills as our economy keeps pushing back, you would be mad not to explore it. Of course you need to make sure you meet the various requirements to secure the initial Visa to get here and run the gauntlet in terms of the border and MIQ but with any luck that process will become easier as the months pass.

For the rest of you who may not meet the very generous requirements under this new (and it is a one-off) category or who don’t work in healthcare, fear not – every day, week and month we move closer to being able to bring you here. It’s a message we think needs to be reinforced, New Zealand is not closed to migrants and if today’s numbers are anything to go by, our need to open up and let people in who can bring the skills we desperately need is becoming even more apparent.

To find out more and particularly if you think you could be one of those eligible to fall within the new 2021 Visa pathway, get in touch. Fortune favors the bold and there is no better time than now to be a bold migrant.


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