The Immigration Department’s “Skill-shortage list” is a list of occupations that are in short supply in New Zealand. The list means that would-be migrants with those particular skills are given preference over migrants whose skills are not on the list. It seems like a great idea and a good way to ensure that New Zealand’s skills needs are met.
Unfortunately, it is sometimes used for the benefit of employers, not the NZ workforce as a whole.
NZNO is constantly responding to consultation requests from Immigration NZ as DHBs and other health providers, especially within the aged care sector, push for nursing and health care assistant roles to be added to the skills shortage list.
Recently, Hawkes Bay DHB, Southern DHB and Capital and Coast DHB have all applied to have registered nurse and midwife positions added to the skills shortage list, and to renew their accredited employer status so they can fast track offshore recruitment of nurses and midwives.
We absolutely reject that the DHBs need to recruit nurses and midwives offshore while there are large numbers of nursing and midwifery graduates still seeking employment.
As a country we need to start addressing the root causes of recruitment and retention difficulties and plan for a sustainable, home grown workforce.
It is not fair that we continue to educate and train nurses and then deny them employment while continuing to recruit offshore. Only 61 percent of last year’s nursing graduates have found placements in nurse entry to practice positions and only half of the country’s DHBs are offering placements in the second advanced choice of employment (ACE) round.
Overseas recruitment processes are long and expensive and often include a six week competence assessment programme. Surely, that time and money would be better spent on supporting new graduates into practice, and facilitating internal appointments with training and education that supports expanded practice and rewarding career pathways for nurses and midwives.
NZNO recognises that demand for nurses is increasing, as New Zealand’s population and the nursing workforce ages, but recruiting from overseas to fill workforce gaps is not the answer.