Hospitality work visa changes welcomed

Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
Jim Boult. Photo: ODT files
A match made in hospitality.

That should be the outcome of a Government move to change visa requirements for migrant workers living in New Zealand but not permitted to work.

From yesterday, the Ministry of Social Development included in its "under-supply" list of occupations for the Queenstown Lakes district such jobs as executive chefs, restaurant supervisors, concierges and housekeepers.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said on the one hand there were roughly 1000 hospitality and tourism job vacancies in the district.

On the other hand, there were many unemployed migrant workers.

"The numbers sort of match up because we think there are around 800 or 900 migrant workers currently looking for a job."

Mr Boult said the number of vacancies was a reflection of the 1500 migrant workers who had left the district.

"The hospitality industry is screaming out for workers at the present time in all areas.

"This enables people in the district now without a job to get a job — providing, of course, there’s not a suitable Kiwi to take the job already."

Mr Boult congratulated the Government for recognising the district’s "recruitment challenges" and making the changes he and colleagues had advocated for.

"Our district has relied heavily on workers from overseas given the scale of the visitor economy here, and I couldn’t see any other way of helping these businesses adequately staff themselves.

"This change was essential to so many local businesses."

Edgewater Wanaka general manager Catherine Bone said the move would make a difference.

"It’s not the final solution in my mind but it is definitely a great start."

Ms Bone said the visa extension did not give a lot of security to migrant workers because it was only for six months.

"It’s a fantastic step in the right direction.

"We just need a little bit more."


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