A new fast-tracked visa category to help with the cyclone recovery should enable civil construction to ramp up its response, says CCNZ chief executive Alan Pollard
He says the new category is flexible and streamlined enough for the industry to recruit workers from overseas without the significant barriers that have prevented the industry from overcoming its critical shortage of workers.
“This visa category will enable the civil construction industry to get the people it needs, without the burdens imposed by excessive cost, delay and red tape. It’s what our members need to be able to address the challenges posed by the cyclone.”
Pollard adds that while six months validity after issue was not a long time for the visa to be granted, he hopes the visa would be streamlined to connect in with other opportunities for migrants to support the country’s massive recovery build.
The country’s shortage of civil construction workers had been well-documented as the industry’s number one challenge for several years, and despite the industry’s efforts to create good training and workforce intake programmes, the inability to bring in migrant workers where needed had significantly impacted projects and maintenance efforts.
“While businesses had put a lot of energy into identifying talent and developing people within New Zealand, they had at the same time been severely restricted by closed borders, a small pool of prospective workers and few infrastructure construction training opportunities,” he says.
“It’s clear from the scale of this disaster that we have a lot of work to do. Civil construction companies are working hard to clean up debris and silt, as well as repair roads, public spaces and private properties. But they also need to look after their people, who can only work in ‘crisis mode’ for so long. New overseas workers will help spread the load.”
He also says good mental health support is essential to prevent fatigue and burnout among workers on the big cleans-up and repair and encourages companies to explore new crisis resources produced by MATES in Construction NZ.
The next step would be a co-ordinated international campaign to recruit top international talent that leveraged NZ’s global status and international networks, says Alan.
The Specific Purpose Work Visa is is intended for people coming to New Zealand for a short period for: Providing emergency response; Immediate clean-up; Assessing risk or loss; Infrastructure, building and housing stabilisation and/or repair (including planning functions); and Work that directly supports the recovery (e.g. producing relevant material for road rebuild, transport drivers etc).
Those currently offshore who will assist with recovery efforts can apply through the Specific Purpose Work visa, which will last up to six months.
INZ will process the applications for this visa category within a week, sometimes quicker.
Employers will need to confirm that the role supports the North Island response to the extreme weather events. The $700 fee will be refunded for successful applicants.