Skilled migrants shortfall likely to worsen even after borders reopen - Faafoi

New Zealand can expect a drop in skilled migration once the borders reopen, according to Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi.

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Australia's holding an inquiry into its skilled migration programme, and in NZ, expressions of interest under the category are currently suspended. Source: Q+A

Expression of interest under the category was halted in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic last April and is yet to be reinstated.

Now the Government’s taking the drop in migration as an opportunity to review its policies like the skilled workers visas.

“Having a moment of pause while the borders are closed gives us an opportunity to think about the immigration system,” Faafoi told Q+A.

The review of immigration policies is set to assess not only how to transition from where the country is now, but also what it will look like in 20 years’ time.

Eventually when New Zealand reopens its borders to the rest of the world, an initial boost in skilled migration is predicted, but it's not expected to last.

“If you look in 10-15 years’ time at countries which feed our migration, their populations are going to decrease as well," Faafoi says.

He says the ability to bring in skilled migrants to fill the severe job shortages could become even harder as numbers dwindle overseas.

Without reliance on migrants to fill these jobs, the Government’s pivoting towards upskilling the domestic workforce to plug the hole.

“We need to start thinking about long-term, what kind of skills we have here, what kind of skills we do need here and the threshold for that,” says Faafoi.  

He says particularly with minority populations like Māori and Pasifika which are “far too represented in low skill, low wage employment.”