Posts with tag: employers
Letters from the Southern Man
Migrating is more than just filling in forms and submitting paperwork, its a complex process that will test even the most resilient of people.
Understanding New Zealand is paramount to your immigration survival and to give you a realistic view of the country, its people and how we see the world, read our weekly Southern Man blogs. Often humorous, sometimes challenging, but always food for thought.
As the world reflects on a life well lived with the passing of Baroness Margaret Thatcher I have this week paused to give thought to her legacy. Saviour or demon? Reformer or wrecker? She was undeniably uncompromising and tough. She knew what she wanted. She was confident she was right on what needed to be done. She changed the landscape at home and abroad. Some say she saved the nation and others accuse her of economic sabotage. She set out to transform an inefficient public sector and union dominated economy into something that might ultimately provide a better future for her people. Yes, there were winners and losers but, let’s face it, someone had to do it. I am a bit of fan. Especially when comes to reform of ‘public services’.
We had our own (Sir) Roger Douglas who in the mid 1980s undertook economic reforms here at such a pace it made Margaret Thatcher look a bit like an economic Joseph Stalin. Douglas too was admired and reviled in equal numbers. The reality was New Zealand by 1984 was out of cash and on a one way trip to third world status. He effectively dismantled statutory rights of Unions to represent all workers, he worked on decentralising Government and sold off state run businesses – funny today to think that anyone might agree Governments can or should run telephone companies!
One thing both Thatcher and our own Roger Douglas had in common and upon which experience forces me to agree was that the ‘public service’ is generally inefficient. When a public servant is in a service role but has no financial skin in the game, it is hard to get the best outcomes for the tax paying public.
I am in the camp that says in New Zealand Government still pokes its nose into the affairs of many that it has no business being in.
Nothing illustrates that better than a visa case I am arguing right now.
In brief, the applicant has found a job in New Zealand as a Metal Machinist. He filed his own work visa. The Immigration Department indicated a few days ago they intend declining this work visa because they say the employer hasn’t made a genuine effort to fill the vacancy; there is labour market evidence which suggests that New Zealanders should be available to fill or be trained to fill the position and the salary (at $18 per hour) was too low and does not reflect ‘market rates’.
Earth to the Immigration Department - it is no great secret that local employers prefer to employ locals. Just ask any migrant who has looked for a job here. New Zealanders do not need the protection of the Immigration Department. Employers do not enjoy dealing with faceless state functionaries who have little real world experience in how the labour market functions. What employer in his right mind would play the bureaucratic, illogical and frustrating work visa game if he/she could find qualified, experienced locals who want to work?
No one outside of a mental institution.
In 24 years and thousands of work visa applications later I can with hand on heart say that I have never met one employer who employs non-residents unless they are forced to. Not one.
Migrants will usually confirm that they are always second in the queue.
Recently, one must assume as a way to lower our own unemployment rate, the Ministry of Social Development (who run WINZ – their arm where the unemployed are registered and who are tasked with finding jobs for these people) and the Immigration Department came to an agreement whereby when a work visa application is received this merry bunch of bureaucrats do the following:
1. Immigration Department alerts Ministry of Social Development (MSD) in Wellington of the position and the location of the business offering the job; then
2. WINZ Wellington gets onto the branch of WINZ closest to the employer, sends them a message to the effect of ‘there are some jobs going with employer X – get on the phone – try and help lower our national unemployment rate’; then
3. WINZ Branch ‘Work Broker’ (don’t make me laugh) makes contact with employer and comes over all eager with helpful offers to try and help them fill this vacancy; then
4. Employer usually says ‘Fantastic, I look forward to interviewing solid qualified candidates’; then
5. WINZ sends no one.
6. WINZ however tells the Immigration Department that there should be locals available with the skills or available to be trained; then
7. Immigration Department says to the employer ‘you didn’t try hard enough, WINZ says there are locals available so you cannot have the migrant’;
8. Employer scratches head and starts to weep……
The first five points cover the process. The final three the outcome.
In the past three weeks I have come across three examples of this.
Back to my client – the employer spent a month advertising late last year on Trademe.co.nz which is by far New Zealand’s busiest online job website.
Anyone unemployed or anyone interested in this position would, I assume, do what all my clients, friends and family do – they monitor it. When they are alerted to vacancies that match their skills set and profile they apply.
In this case the employer genuinely found no suitable applicants.
Some time later however having all but given up on filling the role my client was referred to him through word of mouth. The employer interviewed him by telephone. Checked his references. Checked his qualifications. Offered the job thinking that given he had tried locally and just couldn’t find someone the work visa shouldn’t be a big deal.
After my client filed his work visa the employer got a call from his friendly local WINZ Work Broker. That person asked about the position, the pay, the conditions etc and then said that WINZ would check their records and get back to the employer with some candidates. Naturally they haven’t called back nor sent a single person for interview. After almost three weeks.
Not to be overlooked in this bureaucratic morass of stupidity is the fact that the Rotorua Branch of WINZ was already regularly in contact with this employer and had been for about two years to check on vacancies and to see how they might be able to assist. Two years!
However, no one in the Branch when prodded by their Head Office in Wellington appears to have checked whatever records they keep to see if in fact they already had a relationship with this employer as part of their usual processes.
Nice one. Really efficient.
Immigration Officers continue to make life hard for employers based on garbage advice from Ministry of Social Development. WINZ couldn’t fill a vacancy if they fell into it.
Margaret Thatcher had a point and so too did Sir Roger Douglas. Public servants rarely, if ever, are as efficient and productive as their private sector counterparts. While there are undoubtedly some good ones and a minority work hard I just doubt their ability to work smart.
Unfortunately we as taxpayers and in my line of work, migrants and employers struggling to fill increasing skills shortages, pay a heavy price.
R.I.P. Maggie – you changed the world for the better. But the job isn't done here.
Until next week
Sport is a funny thing, it can bring out the best and worst in us. It can be a force for good and it can also be used for negativity and destruction. So too migration.
I can see with the All Blacks now poised to take the World Cup for the first time in 24 years how dedication to a single goal; a goal that is researched, visualised, planned and then executed can be such a force for good, not only for those involved but for those around who get to bask in the reflected glory.
If you win you can look back and pin point the pivotal moments where the decisions that made the difference were locked in.
If you lose you can look around and find blame with everyone and everything else except yourself and your plan. Blame those around you because in the end you were just not up to the challenge.
I am still ashamed of the vilification of referee Wayne Barnes in this country and the way New Zealanders blamed that referee for their departure from the 2007 quarter final in Cardiff. No referee ever cost a rugby side a game in the World Cup. Not the ref in the game between Samoa and South Africa three weeks ago, not South Africa when they played Australia in the quarter final and lost and not Wales when they lost to France in the semi.
Scapegoats are for those that seek factors other than themselves. It might be natural to lash out when you fail to reach the summit of your own Everest but, not only is it unseemly, the reasons given are often so wide of the mark.
I was thinking this past week about some of the toys being thrown from cots in certain parts of the rugby world when I got to reflecting over a client of ours from South Africa who has just found himself an offer of skilled employment here that will secure his and his family’s future. As a senior Police Officer in South Africa he has seen all pathways to promotion blocked owing to that country’s employment policies which nowadays specifically excludes most ‘whites’ from advancement.
His salary is pitiful given he puts his life on the line every day he gets dressed in that uniform and his savings as a consequence not high. In fact so bad is the salary of a Police Captain, shot twice in the line of duty that he has had to set up and run his own small business on the side to supplement his income. Pest control (the irony is wonderful) has kept himself and his family from the gutter.
When I met with this potential client back in July in South Africa, I outlined a strategy to achieve Residence for his family in New Zealand. I counselled him that it would not be easy but was doable. I told him he would be tested like he has never been tested before.
He needed a job offer to make it happen. Skilled and relevant employment and it would not be an easy nut to crack.
I explained that the two weeks he had planned to set aside to come to NZ and try to secure the job was simply unrealistic, greater investment in both time and money would be needed. Two things he was very short on.
We discussed the obvious employer – New Zealand Police. New Zealand is recruiting more front line police but unfortunately I told him that he would not be able to apply to join them as they have a policy of only employing New Zealand citizens or permanent residents, but that there were other sectors which would and had recruited former policemen we had helped to get Residence Visas of New Zealand.
He was understandably very nervous about it all. I might even suggest he was petrified. He was one of the few clients that just before he flew out here I emailed and asked ‘Are you really sure you want to do this? Are you really sure you are up to it?”
He was quite determined and was willing to follow our advice and the plan we laid out for him.
He has now been in New Zealand for about ten weeks, having left his wife and daughters behind and has been busy applying for various management level positions in retail, security and other sectors.
He has applied for jobs up and down the length of this country, travelled thousands of kilometres for interviews, been rejected by almost all but stayed stoic and focussed when he did not get them.
Then it happened. Last week he secured the position he needed for us to unlock Residence Visas of New Zealand for him and his family and we have just filed his Work Visa application (from within NZ) which will enable him to start his new job in a couple of weeks.
This job will also now enable him to proceed with confidence on our plan to secure his family Residence Visas of New Zealand.
The word “hero” is to my mind over used. It is very easy to suggest everyone is a winner and there can be no losers but life isn’t like that, we all know it. There are winners and there are losers.
Lady Luck plays a bit part at times but overwhelmingly we make our own luck.
The All Blacks aren’t about to play the greatest game of their lives owing to any luck or fortune. They had to beat some very good teams to make this final. They planned for it. They trained for it. They spent four years on it. And I have no doubt they will achieve it. They have been the best team at this tournament and I am truly honoured to have sat in the stands at Eden Park last Sunday and watched them beat the Australians, clearly the second best side at this Rugby World Cup.
All migrants that take the risks involved in scaling the mountain that is migration are to my mind heroes. All are taking risks that have real and meaningful consequences on a financial, emotional and logistical level if they fail. And make no mistake - all can fail and many do. There is something Darwinian about this process – New Zealand gets highly focussed and driven people who have been prepared to sacrifice and fight for the chance to live here.
There are many for whom the climb is too steep, the battle too hard, the rejections too frequent and who when faced with the adversity, the cost, the emotional investment, the time, the rejection and the fear find they just cannot scale the heights required to secure that key to a new life for them and their family.
And to this client, this dedicated, single bloody minded client, who has been tested in this process and his life like few others and who can add a few more scars to the bullet exit wounds on his body, I salute you. You are a real hero – you had a plan, you had a vision of where you needed to go and how to get there and you did it. Your children will one day, I hope, thank you for what you have risked and what you are about to give them.
I am genuinely proud, as a coach is of his rugby team, that although we have a long way to go to finish the residence process, the single greatest impediment to securing that residence is a barrier smashed and he will make it.
To all those who seek residence for themselves and their families who want to do this on the cheap, by cutting corners, by thinking it can all be achieved without real struggle – stay where you are – you will likely fail.
To those who are willing to get good advice, and yes pay for it (for these things are not mutually exclusive), this mountain is able to be conquered.
And to our beloved mighty All Blacks who stand for all that is great and good about this little country that could – who have put their bodies on the line in the quest for greatness and glory, a noble goal will be realised on Sunday. Not through cutting corners, not through trying to win this World Cup with anything other than a good plan, sweat and tears but through a vision held steadfastly to, a plan and single minded execution, taking the knocks and setbacks and conquering all those that stood before them.
To the All Blacks - you are all real heroes.
As is every one of our clients, including our Police Captain from South Africa who take all that the Immigration Department, New Zealand employers and the visa process can find to hurl at them and who win – whose ‘World Cup’ is a somewhat innocuous looking label in a well worn passport but which ultimately says it all - I came, I saw and I conquered.
Until next week...
Work Visa – Perspective for employers
With unemployment levels for the over 25's now at 4.5% and falling, skills shortages are beginning to build. With the Government having cut skilled migrant numbers (for the time being I am told), I give it six months and the impending skill shortages will start to bite and cause real frustration for employers.
As the economy continues to strengthen and the rebuild of Christchurch gets underway, next year there is little doubt that if you are a New Zealand employer and you take advantage of skilled migrants looking to settle in NZ then you will be a step ahead of the competition in terms of recruitment.
I remember so vividly the final 18 months before the GFC where employers simply gave up trying to recruit locally but many did not think about recruiting offshore or found the prospects daunting and confusing. Even we were in on the act. We needed a PA type role filled in our Auckland office and in the end offered the position to a client who was coming to NZ from South Africa – we simply could not find any locals who had the skill set to fill the vacancy.
I believe it will be approximately 12 months before we will be back there again barring any major offshore decline in economic fortune or local disaster.
Understand that the basis of Work Visa policy is to ‘protect employment opportunities for New Zealanders’. Many would argue this is as it should be – we need to look after our own first. That policy foundation is unfortunately often misinterpreted by immigration officers who appear to go to great lengths at times to try and prove to the employer that even though no locals bothered applying for the position there are plenty who should be able to.
There are two types of Work Visas most commonly applied for (there are many others but this blog would quickly become a book). These are:
1. Essential Skills – a policy designed effectively for one off appointments; or
2. Talent – these are for migrants being offered employment by ‘Accredited’ employers. Accreditation is given to ‘trusted’ employers (upon application) and who usually have an ongoing need to recruit offshore.
1. Essential Skills - The broad criteria for employers looking to offer a position to a non-Resident or Citizen under this category are:
(i) You have made a genuine effort to fill the vacancy but have been unable to and that no local ‘should’ (note not ‘could’) be able to fill the vacancy and you can prove it.
(ii) The migrant is suitably qualified by training or experience to fill the vacancy;
(ii) Your business is able to sustain the employment;
(iii) You are paying ‘market rates’
(iv) You have a track record of being a good employer;
Perhaps strangely, policy does not allow an employer to offer the migrant the position because they are the ‘best’ applicant; they must be the only ‘suitable’ applicant. This goes against logic but since when is immigration policy logical? Many employers are tripped up by the subtle differences between being the best versus the only ‘suitable’ applicant. It isn’t usually hard to present evidence of why, if as an employer, you were lucky enough to get any locals applying, that your preferred candidate was the ‘only suitable one’.
How do you prove that no local should be able to fill the position?
In my more cheeky (and lucid) moments I suggest – just advertise it.
There is in New Zealand an utter dislocation between the unemployed and employers. Most skilled people in the major urban centres are employed. Those that are unemployed are either unemployable or unmotivated.
Regardless of the evidence the employer presents, for example online job advertising, the Immigration Department generally goes through this bizarre ritual whereby they contact Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) and seeks their opinion on whether locals ‘should’ be able to fill the vacancy. WINZ is this giant public service division, that in part exists to place the unemployed in work. Something they are pretty useless at doing in my experience.
So why does the Immigration Department rely on WINZ for labour market advice? Simply put, it is because the Immigration Department has concluded using its own twisted logic that local employers are liars and they would far rather employ migrants and play this complicated bureaucratic visa game rather than employ a local. Yeah, right…
The reality is there are generally few locals registered as unemployed who want to apply for these vacancies.
You would be utterly amazed how often when employers place vacancies with WINZ themselves they get no referrals. In fact WINZ is so useless and the quality of those they might refer so bad most employers don’t think of ever looking to them for help. Unfortunately Government policy demands that they do.
We recently got two Work Visas for two nannies. We were able to demonstrate without too much difficulty that there are apparently no locals registered with WINZ who wanted to or were forced to apply for these vacancies. No applicants for these two positions – one in Auckland and one in Northland? Zero. None. Zip.
So knowing how the policy is implemented makes it relatively straightforward to get Work Visas for our clients without too much bother to the employer. You just need to understand what you are doing and the rules of engagement. I cannot recall the last time any of our clients did not get Work Visas simply because we know how the system works.
2. Talent Visas - This is a Work Visa granted to those who can demonstrate they have been offered genuine employment by an 'Accredited Employer' for which they are qualified and experienced to do, who meet health and character criteria and who have a minimum salary of $55,000.
I am surprised more employers don’t apply for accreditation status as it is not overly complex to get and once you have it then you no longer have to play the mindless game as outlined above under Essential Skills each time you need to employ someone. No proving that the applicant was the only suitable candidate for example. The only restriction is that this policy demands annual base salaries of not less than $55,000 which cuts out certain types of positions because it is higher in many cases than local market rates.
To get accreditation employers must be able to demonstrate:
(i) They have good human resource policy and practices
(ii) They are able to sustain ongoing employment
(iii) Two years of financial accounts
(iv) Evidence of any training offered to up-skill locals
(v) They have no record of dispute with local unions or for example the Employment (Disputes) Tribunal.
This is a really great option when skills shortages bite or employers have an ongoing need to recruit. For forward planning employers who may think that this time next year they might struggle to find locals then consider getting this status now – don’t wait till you need someone in four weeks! If the salary level is $55,000 plus then you’d be a mug to ignore the possibilities it gives you.
The accreditation application process isn’t overly expensive and is relatively painless if you want the assistance of licensed advisers such as the Immagine team.
Employing someone from overseas is not the hassle so many employers think it is (and this is a shameless plug for our services) but when you know what you are doing, when you understand the rules of engagement with the Department and when you know who to talk to when the counter level functionary processing the visa is giving you a tough time – there is no reason why getting a Work Visa for the person you want to employ should take more than four weeks.
And that of course is about the same time as the notice period any incumbent who is moving on would normally give you.
Food for thought before those skills shortages bite hard this time next year.
Until next week
Southern Man - Iain MacLeod