Kiwis to be first in line for Christchurch rebuild

Published:  25 Jan at 6 PM
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Following the introduction of changes in New Zealand immigration law, local workers in the construction trade will be given preference over incomers from overseas.

The population of the earthquake-hit city is expected to soar as rebuilding gets under way and overseas construction workers arrive, but new immigration rules are expected to prevent unskilled migrant workers from being employed. Immigration New Zealand’s recent policy changes require employers of migrant labour to register workers with the Government’s skills office rather than just prove a vacancy has been filled.

The skills office will be involved in seeking local workers to fill unskilled positions arising from the reconstruction, with immigration authorities already stating online that suitable Kiwis will be first in the jobs queue. The policy comes into effect next Monday, with immigration assuring that, should no local workers be found, visa applications from migrants will not be delayed by the checking process.

NZ immigration’s belief that the changes will benefit employers is being challenged by a number of construction companies who fear unnecessary delays may be the only result. Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce head Peter Townsend at first supported the changes, but now believes the system is likely to become too dogmatic.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Townsend pointed out that, in the past, connectivity between prospective employees and employers had traditionally caused difficulties. He added that the difficulties had been magnified by local workers denying there were able to find work and local employers insisting they could not find skilled or unskilled Kiwis who were actually willing to work.
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