Still fears of rural skills shortage

Although the short term changes for temporary work visa holders in New Zealand announced last week have provided some relief to farmers, for some rural contractors, they do not go far enough.

Central Rural Services contractor Reid Gare said while the extensions through to March were welcome, rural contractors and horticulture industries were likely to be short of skilled and experienced workers during the coming season because of Covid-19 immigration restrictions.

"The chances of getting staff from overseas are still very remote."

As the contracting industry is weather dependant, firms could still be busy after March.

"The industry could still be desperately short of staff mid-season."

DairyNZ and Federated Farmers are pleased to see the Government announcement that it is extending employer assisted temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020.

DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said the six-month extension was excellent news for farmers and the estimated 3000 dairy farm employees whose temporary visas were due to expire.

"The dairy sector, farm employers and our farm employees on temporary visas have been calling on the Government to provide a solution.

"We are pleased they have listened.

"We are about to go into the busiest time of the farming year with calving and urgently sought certainty that farmers would be able to keep their existing staff."

Federated Farmers immigration spokesman Chris Lewis said these people were needed.

"They are key to our daily business on-farm."

The changes include extending the existing employer-assisted temporary work visas for people who are in New Zealand and whose visas are due to expire before the end of 2020, by six months.


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