New skilled worker roles on dairy farms good news - Feds

Cows graze on the Taieri Plain, south of Dunedin, this week. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Farmers are welcoming the news that assistant farm manager and herd manager roles on dairy farms will be recognised as skilled positions for migrant workers.

The policy change, which came into effect on Monday, previously only recognised the jobs as unskilled roles.

According to DairyNZ, herd managers take responsibility for some day-to-day operations, running the dairy shed and other routine tasks, and have some staff working under them.

Meanwhile, an assistant farm manager helps with the management of daily activities and implementing farm policies and plans. They manage daily planning and staff management in the absence of the farm manager/owner.

Federated Farmers immigration spokesperson Chris Lewis said the industry had called for this to change a few years ago and it was good there has been some action.

He hoped it would help employers retain skilled farm workers.

"As long as you are advertising the right position, with the right title, right job description with the right contract, with everything done correctly it will make retention of highly skilled staff a lot easier," Lewis said.

He said it was a bit bureaucratic to call them low-skilled roles.

"For many many years, if you were a herd manager or assistant (Farm) manager, you were deemed to be low-skilled under the criteria by Immigration NZ," he said.

"We said these are highly skilled jobs, often they have a degree, many years of experience, they get paid really well but they were deemed to be low skilled.

"It was quiet demoralising and demeaning for people and that was the feedback we got from them (migrant workers)."


I fail to see why the tradition of defining these positions as low skilled is beuracratic. I also fail to see any justification for rebranding them skilled. However. They have been and the jobs have been opened to the free market internationally. Skilled NZers will now be competing for these vacancies with foreigners who will accept the jobs for less than the minimum wage and working hours that no kiwi would accept. I expect an increase in cases of underpayment and holiday rip offs as has been experienced in the horticultural industry.