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Are your skills in demand in New Zealand?


By David Fisher, New Zealand Shores, Law and Policy Adviser


The subject of this article is one which is very important for anyone wanting to emigrate to New Zealand as a skilled worker. Simply put, the topic revolves around the difference between technical eligibility and the ability to actually obtain skilled employment. First of all I will discuss the Skilled Migrant policy in general and point out some of the pitfalls that many potential migrants encounter in trying to find out if they are eligible for New Zealand Immigration. Secondly I will cover the subject of  the current job market in New Zealand and try to point out the areas of expertise that are in actual demand, and are likely to help an applicant gain residency quickly so they can move to New Zealand as soon as possible.

Make sure you read through to the end of the article where I cover some of the latest statistics of job demand from the recent Hays Quarterly Report. You might be surprised to discover which jobs that are actually in high demand this year.

What is Skilled Employment?

Skilled Employment, for purposes of the Skilled Migrant Category, is defined in the current immigration policy as follows:

  1. Skilled employment is employment that requires specialist, technical or management expertise obtained through:
    1. the completion of recognised relevant qualifications; or
    2. recognised relevant work experience; or
    3. the completion of recognised relevant qualifications and work experience.
  2. Assessment of whether an occupation is skilled for the purposes of the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC) is primarily based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) which associates skill levels with each occupation.

In Appendix 6 of the Immigration Operational Manual can be found a list of skilled occupations that, as long as the requirements noted above are met, will qualify for skilled employment under this policy. There are a number of matters to consider in ascertaining whether all the skill requirements are met and so I would always recommend that a potential applicant seek professional advice, but in the first instance it can simply be said that if the job is on the list in Appendix 6 then it qualifies. Many people often confuse this requirement for skilled employment with the Long Term Skills Shortage List (LTSSL) or the Immediate Skills Shortage List (ISSL). We have often heard the claim that because a person’s job is not on either of these list they are not eligible under the Skilled Migrant Category. The reality is that a job need only be on the list in Appendix 6. The LTSSL and the ISSL only apply when it comes to the awarding of bonus points in an Expression Of Interest (EOI) or in the specific requirements of the processing of work visas.

Now that we are somewhat clear about what skilled employment is let’s go on to find out what the difference is between the ISSL and the LTSSL and how they may affect your application.

Immediate Skills Shortage List vs Long Term Skills Shortage List

The Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL) includes occupations where skilled workers are immediately required in New Zealand and indicates that there are no New Zealand citizens or residents available to take up the position. This enables faster processing of the application. If you are offered a job on the ISSL and meet the list requirements you may be granted an Essential Skills work visa without the need to prove any attempts to recruit available New Zealanders. You won’t necessarily be able to apply for residence.

The Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL) identifies occupations where there is a sustained and on-going shortage of highly skilled workers both globally and throughout New Zealand.If you get a job in an occupation on the LTSSL and meet the list requirements, you may be granted a work visa under the Work to Residence category. This means that you could move to New Zealand now and you may be eligible to apply for residence in two years, provided you meet standard requirements and that job has a base salary of at least NZ$55,000.

A further point about the LTSSL is that if you meet the requirements then you may be eligible for bonus points on an Expression of Interest under the Skilled Migrant Residence Category. In some cases these bonus points could mean the difference between being eligible and not being eligible, however in many cases it makes very little difference at all in a residence application. For even fewer applicants the bonus points could make an applicant eligible even without a job offer but this is a rare occurrence. The majority of applicants who have a genuine offer of skilled employment will be eligible to apply for residence with or without bonus points for meeting the LTSSL requirements so I generally encourage people not to be too concerned about whether or not their job is on the list and instead focus on obtaining the all-important skilled job offer.

What skills are actually in demand?

Albert Einstein once said: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.” The same can be said about the difference between being technically eligible to emigrate to New Zealand and being able to actually secure a job which will allow you to make the move to New Zealand.

The New Zealand Immigration policy is clear about the occupations that qualify as skilled employment and it even provides us with a list of skills that are “in demand”. But what is does not and can not show is which skills are being actively sought by employers. Having your occupation on a skills shortage list cannot help your chances of moving to New Zealand if you are still unable to find an offer of employment.

Every quarter, international recruitment company Hays publishes an in depth report about the New Zealand job market and it is a well-respected publication that is relied upon by professionals in all fields for up to date data about their industry. For example if you click through to the “sales” section, you can see that technical sales people are in demand. Someone with an engineering background who may have been struggling to find work, may wish to place more emphasis on any sales or customer relations skills they have and then apply for more sales-oriented roles. They may not remain in that sales role in the long term but at the very least it would be a way of satisfying the skilled employment requirement of their EOI and resident application. This is just one example of how the Hays report can assist in your migration goals.

Interestingly the report also shows that skilled telesales people are in demand. This occupation is not on the list of skilled employment so it will not qualify someone for a resident visa right away, but it may be a way to enter New Zealand on a temporary visa and allow an applicant to gain valuable work experience and potentially grow into a management level position that will qualify for points in an EOI.

As immigration consultants we strongly recommend that applicants use all possible tools at their disposal to refine their job search and secure the skilled employment that will allow them to migrate to New Zealand. The Hays report is just one of many publications available but is a very good starting point for finding out current job market trends.

David Fisher

New Zealand Shores Immigration Law and Policy Adviser