New Zealand has granted border class exceptions to let more migrant workers enter the country to relieve the labour shortage gripping the primary sector.
The federal government has allowed border class exceptions for skilled migrants in sectors such as the dairy industry as part of Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ).
Exceptions granted by the New Zealand government include 200 mobile plant and machinery operators, 40 shearers, and 50 wool handlers.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the New Zealand government approved the MIQ exceptions for targeted skilled migrants to support key harvest requirements in autumn and alleviate workforce pressures created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover, he also said there was an enormous demand for workers in New Zealand’s dairy sector, which led the government to grant the border class exceptions in order to fill up the maximum number of jobs where the need is the strongest.
Speaking on labour shortages across other areas, Mr O’Connor said that the government is working with the sectors on addressing these challenges, such as working with the meat industry to address the shortage of halal butchers.
He went on to say that New Zealand’s primary sector has been granted more than 5,100 border class exceptions since June 2020, which is close to the number of exceptions granted to the healthcare industry.
In addition to border class exceptions, New Zealand also started one-way quarantine-free travel for Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers in October and offered a one-off pathway to residency for around 9,000 skilled migrants, Mr O’Connor said.
He also explained that New Zealand is seeking a balance in the Reconnecting New Zealand program to minimise risks to Kiwi communities and the health system while supporting the country’s economy.
Earlier this year, New Zealand outlined plans to reopen its borders in 2022 for fully vaccinated returning residents and foreign visitors following a lengthy period of border closures due to the pandemic.