Sunday, April 14, 2024

Govt responds to Productivity Commission immigration report

The Government has released its interim response to the Productivity Commission’s Report, Immigration – Fit for the Future.

The Productivity Commission was tasked to undertake the inquiry to help the Government determine which immigration policy settings would best facilitate Aotearoa New Zealand’s long-term economic growth and promote the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

The Government’s interim response summarises the major reforms being undertaken to drive a more coordinated, connected and longer-term approach to workforce planning and development, as well as the further work that’s needed based on the Commission’s recommendations, said Finance Minister, Grant Robertson.

“I thank the Commission for their work and valuable recommendations which largely align with the Government’s objectives to get the immigration settings right for the long term as we transition to a high-productivity, high-wage, low-emissions economy,” said Mr Robertson.

“It’s also important we have the flexibility to respond to Aotearoa New Zealand’s unexpected needs, as we are at the moment with the response to Cyclone Gabrielle, and as we did during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A key theme of the Commission’s recommendations was improving productivity and labour market outcomes by better-connecting the immigration, skills, training and education systems.

“Regional Skills Leadership Groups, Industry Transformation Plans, Workforce Development Councils and the Reform of Vocational Education all go a long way to position New Zealand’s immigration, education, training and skills systems to better-respond to current and future labour market needs,” said Mr Robertson.

“Our reforms ensure employers have incentives to hire, train and invest in Kiwis and workers already in New Zealand and that the immigration system makes it easier to attract those with high-skills and addresses talent shortages.”

Immigration Minister, Michael Wood said the Immigration Rebalance was a key part of the reforms. 

“The Government’s immigration rebalance has been designed to ensure we have the right mix of high-skilled migrants to grow the New Zealand economy,” Mr Wood said.

“For example, the Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) introduced a wage threshold, currently set at the median wage, as a mechanism to shift from low-skilled low-waged migrant workers to high-skilled, highly paid migrant workers. It also made it easier for migrants to change employers, consistent with the Commission’s recommendations.”

In addition proposed changes to the Skilled Migrant Category align with the Commission’s recommendation to provide greater certainty to skilled migrants, simplify the points system and close the gap between eligibility and available spaces, he said.

“The Commission recommended improving the transparency and public understanding of the Government’s strategic direction of the immigration system.”

“Our priority is to improve how we communicate the goals for the immigration system and that we balance immigration policy objectives with broader government objectives, including how we manage demands on housing, education and health services that migration brings.

“I have asked officials to provide advice on what a Government Policy Statement (GPS) for the immigration system will look like. This will included targeted consultation on an initial outline of a GPS.

“We will also progress work on the Commission’s recommendation for more engagement with mana whenua on how to reflect Te Tiriti o Waitangi and Te Ao Māori in immigration settings and institutions,” Minister Wood said.

The Government’s interim response to the Productivity Commission’s Report, Immigration – Fit for the Future can be found on the MBIE website.

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