While the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic continues and change is apparent, one constant that remains virtually the same is our farming sector.
Commentators continue to speculate on the potential losses for New Zealand – farming, the agriculture sector and its communities will be there to lend New Zealand a hand. Robust, resilient, and reaching out for staff, New Zealand’s farming sector offers opportunities.
We help the dairy sector and its rural communities fill a generational staffing and human capacity gap, a need which came about because of our clean, green meat and milk being so popular around the globe. That need saw our dairy industry double in size over a few short years during the late 90s.
We have looked overseas to fill that gap for some years now but with the closure of our borders to combat the spread of the virus, like many other sectors, we need to review how we go about solving the problem that Covid-19 has caused.
Immigration is just like the supermarket queue
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Immigration NZ dropped to around 5% of its normal capacity. The organisation has done an excellent job of keeping the public updated on its priority for processing applications and currently, our requirements are down the list of these priorities.
There are a number of submissions that are being held and these will have to be reviewed before being approved. To put this into context, around 10% of New Zealand’s workforce is on a work visa (200,000 work visa holders within a working population of approximately 2 million).
This equals a long queue, much longer than the ones we have had to get used to at the local supermarket.
When processing resumes its normality, and it will, this queue will start moving. And like the supermarket, it pays to be near the front to avoid having to wait even longer.
So, we are encouraging new and potential clients to do whatever it takes to ensure they have joined the long line of applications, whether that be with Immigration NZ or with The Regions.
The immigration jigsaw
The writing has been on the wall for a while, but it is inevitable that many offshore recruits will not be here by the start of calving season 2020.
Many of you would have completed puzzles during the lockdown and this situation is no different. If there is a missing piece, it is hard to complete the picture.
The immigration jigsaw is a complex one involving multiple governments and associated departments to be functional, domestic travel and international flights to be operational, border controls and undetermined quarantine requirements on arrival.
If one of those pieces doesn’t fit with the rest, then you can’t force it to make it work.
At The Regions we hope the Government will look at border exemptions for offshore entry for essential services dairy staff – subject to user pays quarantine measures and managed entry to eliminate Covid-19 risks, and not prevent entry and potentially impact the dairy industry which we may rely on to help stimulate the economy.
But, there are other solutions that can be looked at.
Solutions for the queue and the jigsaw
At The Regions we are recruiting from a range of audiences such as existing migrants, backpackers, and of course kiwi residents here in New Zealand.
We are also aware of Philippine workers from other sectors that have been displaced and would add huge value to the already loyal and hardworking migrant farmworkers in our country.
For migrant workers stuck in New Zealand, their countries are not offering to help them fly home, and they will be in New Zealand for the foreseeable future. For student and visitor visa holders who cannot leave New Zealand, entering the workforce would be a sensible move.
Likewise, work visa holders currently employed in essential services professions are allowed to stay in their same jobs but for different employers.
Sectors such as hospitality, tourism and retail may not be hiring again for some time while essential services such as dairy farming, supermarkets and health care are looking for staff.
Now we have entered Level 2 our Government departments are now returning to work in a greater capacity – but still below 100% capacity. This news could not come at a better time for those relying on a functional immigration system with the new dairy season nearly upon us.
The Regions recently hosted a Zoom call where we took a deep dive into whatthe approved Covid-19 Amendment to the Act actually means.
We were very pleased to see that the ethos of our submission and that of other presenters was taken on board and later reiterated in the official press release.
“Any special direction made under the amended Act will not disadvantage visa holders. It will allow the necessary flexibility and efficiency to address the unprecedented challenge of managing large numbers of migrants who are practically unable to leave New Zealand due to the Covid-19 pandemic, or who live in New Zealand but are offshore and facing difficulty returning,” said Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway.
Get in the queue
Unemployment is rising, and the number of applications for roles is rising with it. If you are unemployed, or have been displaced at work, you are welcome to get in touch with your CV to join the queue.
Similarly, for our clients, The Regions has the time and expertise to review CVs and check references for the skills you are looking for.
We are welcoming all new and existing clients to contact us regarding your immigration matters.
The sooner you get in the queue, the quicker we can move you up the line with our quality assistance.