19 May 2009

New Zealand working holiday makers trying for Queenstown jobs

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Operators in ski fields around New Zealand are having to source from less qualified New Zealand working holiday visa holders and local Kiwis because of trouble hiring New Zealand work permit holders after the Department of Labour introduced tougher restrictions on worker eligibility.

According to the Southland Times, New Zealand working holiday makers and New Zealand work permit holders are flocking to the ski fields in the hope of getting work to subsidise a winter season. 

Cardrona snowsports manager Bridget Legnavsky said that workers on temporary New Zealand work permits have traditionally comprised the majority of the workforce on the fields, but that recruiting this year has proven damaging to businesses. 

Now, ski instructors must be guaranteed a minimum of 30 hours work at minimum wage, even though traditionally they would only work up to four hours a day, in order to have their New Zealand work permit approved. 

"A lot of them used to come out here for a bit of work and a bit of a holiday and it worked for us and them. Now we're in a situation where we can't hire part-timers."

Most of the returning New Zealand visa holders are an asset to businesses in the fields, as they do not require training or familiarisation with the industry.  Meanwhile, because the work permits are becoming harder to obtain, New Zealand working holiday visa holders and locals are finding that they are becoming more hireable to employers because they have no working restrictions applied to them, albeit having less experience.

"It's all well and good to say you can hire a Kiwi or someone who has already got a working holiday visa but it's having those skills and that experience which is really important to us, and to a lot of businesses."

The New Zealand working holiday visa is a 12-month visa that allows young travellers (aged 18-30 years) from certain countries to work in New Zealand to subsidise their travel.  Because the working holiday visa expires after 12 months, holders do not have the opportunity to return for a second season on that visa unless they are a British national (in which case the New Zealand working holiday visa is extendable by a further 11 months).

Browns Ski Shop owner Kris Vermeir said that while he had 250 applications for a dozen positions at his shop, only 12 per cent of them are Kiwis who are unqualified for the job. 

The Department of Labour has not commented on the situation.


The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their New Zealand working holiday.


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