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New Zealand has record low unemployment at just 3.2 per cent, record wage inflation and with the phased opening of the border over the coming months a welcome light on accessing critical workers and skills, says Auckland Business Chamber CEO, Michael Barnett.

“There is a dark side to low unemployment as our recovery is being choked by spiralling wages, critical skills shortages and global competition for essential workers from IT to health,” he said. “The easing of critical work visas from March can’t come soon enough for healthcare, technology, transport, construction, education, food production, retail, hospitality, tourism and service sectors.”

These sectors cannot fill jobs, find the skills in New Zealand or willingness to work, and cannot meet the remuneration and perk packages demanded by candidates in IT, in particular, who can operate anywhere and command top dollar for their skills to revolutionise supply, delivery and customer service chains.

“There are chronic shortages of labour at every level from the low wage migrants on temporary visas but seeking residency who are essential to pick our fruit, wash the dishes, build houses and stack shelves to highly trained nurses to look after us when we are sick.”

“And while the opening of the borders brings some relief from the constraints holding recovery back, we need an overhaul urgently of how we value workers and jobs,” Mr Barnett said.

“It will take more than a phased opening of the borders if we are to build a workforce where essential roles have essential skills and labour is available at all times to grow and increase productivity.”

For more information, please contact Michael Barnett on 027 563 1150
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Business Chamber

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