Bringing in more migrant workers could help ease the skill shortage in the scaffolding sector short term. However the path needs to be smoothed for those interested in settling in New Zealand long term, says SARNZ chief executive, Graham Burke.
“Scaffolding is not currently on the Skilled Occupations List, which means migrant workers struggle to get visas to work in New Zealand for more than 12 months. While this is acceptable to most migrant workers, it discounts skilled, experienced people who would love to stay and help us to build long term capacity in the industry. This is impossible unless they are working for an accredited employer, which most small scaffolding businesses are not.”
The sector has traditionally attracted migrant workers from England and Ireland, but there have been a growing number of Filipino workers arriving over the last few years.
With years of ongoing work ahead in Auckland and Christchurch in particular, Graham would like to see scaffolding added to the Skilled Occupations List, which would provide more opportunities for skilled workers from overseas. “Many of these people have the good key skills we are looking for. It seems crazy we are discouraging them from wanting to come here.”