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Attracting Engineering Talent from Overseas

The New Zealand border is opening to the world again, and not before time for the Engineering sector, which is experiencing critical worker shortages that intersect with a full pipeline of forthcoming engineering projects across the country.

New Zealand needs more engineers and associated trades to manage significant projects, from large road and infrastructure projects to civil engineering, water projects, power plants, and rail projects. For many companies, employing overseas workers is the only way to go.

The good news is that employing engineers from overseas can be a relatively short process from beginning to end, but businesses need to be aware that the government has made significant immigration changes to address the skills shortage. As such, the immigration process will require more work from employers than the previous system did.

Employers who want to hire overseas engineering workers now need to be accredited and show no New Zealanders are available for the job they want to fill before hiring from overseas.

Companies need to demonstrate they will be good employers for foreign workers and the requirements vary depending on the industry and business model.

They will need to show their business is solvent and has been profitable for at least two years, with a positive cash flow for the last six months, and enough capital or investment (or a business plan) to remain profitable for the next two years. They also can’t be on the Labour Inspectorate stand-down list or have been banned from hiring migrants.

Businesses will need to show they have advertised the role/s on a New Zealand national job site such as Seek or Trade Me continuously for two weeks, offering competitive salaries and working conditions. They can concurrently advertise overseas to save time as well.

You won’t have to fulfil the advertising requirements if the role is on the Green List or pays twice the median wage. Once Employers satisfy the accreditation requirements, they can begin their search for overseas employees.

The cost for accreditation starts at NZD $740 for employing five or fewer people.

To attract suitable applicants, employers must consider what is important to candidates because New Zealand is not the only country with a skills shortage. Our neighbour over the ditch, Australia, and other countries worldwide will also be looking to attract applicants from the same talent pool.

Enticing overseas workers, especially from ‘in demand’ sectors like engineering, requires local cultural knowledge or research. Applicants from different countries will have different priorities and we suggest emphasising these benefits to prospective workers in your recruitment campaign to set yourself apart from competing organisations. In some countries, particularly Asia, foreign workers often come over alone and send money home to their families. Offering a higher salary than they could get in their home country will be important to them.

Applicants from other countries, like South Africa and parts of Europe, are more likely to bring the whole family out with them. A higher standard of living and a safe environment, with excellent educational prospects for the kids, are just a few benefits they might look out for, even though it’s not directly connected to the role they are applying for.

Potential employees will also want to see what type of company they are applying to. So it’s always a good idea to make sure you are showcasing your business and projects through a great website, case studies, public relations and active social media accounts.

The nuances of what to include in advertising to attract the candidates you want can vary depending on the region. A good immigration adviser can work with you to identify what employees from different countries prioritise and help you with the employment process from start to finish.

Get in touch with Arno and the team to find out how we can help:

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