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Immigration policy – hospitality industry continually overlooked

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The proposed immigration policy reform is going to make it even more challenging for the hospitality industry to access the workers it needs.

Around 15 per cent of our work force is currently made up of those on temporary work visas and the reality is that many of these roles are simply not able to be filled by Kiwis. Our industry contributes $12 billion to the economy and employs 136,000 people, making it one of New Zealand’s largest industries. Despite being an enduring powerhouse of the New Zealand economy, we’re continually overlooked when it comes to policy reform.

The hospitality industry has until recently, been in sustained growth. But for some time, we have been desperately lacking the skilled workforce we need to support our growth.

We have relied heavily on a migrant workforce that is now largely inaccessible and we’ve been holding our breath waiting for the borders to reopen, only to be met with this proposed reform which is light on detail.

A recent survey of members showed that 92 per cent are finding it difficult or extremely difficult to recruit for senior roles and 73 per are finding it difficult or extremely difficult to recruit for entry level roles. With revenue data for the last two months showing that the sector is recovering, it makes it even more vital that we are able to access the labour needed for our businesses to survive.

We are working hard with the government on initiatives like training through our HospoStart and Springboard programmes but the reality is our businesses will struggle in the short term without access to migrant labour.

“The speech by Hon Stuart Nash is frustratingly void of detail, leaving our sector wondering how they will be able to fill vital roles to keep their businesses open.”

Marisa Bidois – CEO, Restaurant Association

To help create our long term changes, we have a roadmap guiding us towards the industry’s revival and to a stronger more resilient industry. We know that no organisation can implement change alone so we are engaging with key industry stakeholders, including industry operators, business organisations, training providers, Unions, regional tourism organisations and more, as well as a wider stakeholder network that includes Ministers and government departments. We need the support of others and most importantly the government if we want to build a hospitality sector that is truly fit for the future.

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