Southland MP Joseph Mooney says the government’s response to the crippling ‘‘50-year workforce shortage’’ is ‘‘actually cruel’’.
‘‘People are burning out and the government’s not doing anything to help it, actually — it’s cruel on businesses and it’s cruel on staff.’’
Last week Mountain Scene reported an overseas chef, with more than 10 years’ experience, had his application for an accredited employer work visa declined because his qualifications and experience — including three years at culinary school — had been assessed at certificate Level 3.
To gain entry as a chef, the potential employee must have a certificate Level 4 NZQF.
Mooney: ‘‘Now a Level 4 certificate trumps Michelin-star restaurant experience around the world … it’s completely insane, to be honest.
‘‘People used to … try and amp up their qualifications so they could come in as chefs and get more points, now it’s the other way; chefs are trying to figure out how to be cooks so they can come in.
‘‘The thing is, it didn’t need to happen.
‘‘If the government had consulted with the hospitality sector, immigration agents, immigration lawyers, they would have highlighted this issue.
‘‘Not only that, but the government’s now known about it for some time, and they’ve done nothing.’’
He’s keen to hear from anyone who’s had a similar issue to contact him, but says the current situation’s concerning.
Unlike Canada and Australia, for example, where the governments are making it easier for migrant workers to fill labour gaps, in New Zealand roadblocks are being put in the way of everyone trying to offer the high-quality visitor experience the government wants.
‘‘On one hand, [they’re] telling us that we need to have a high-quality visitor experience, and, on the other hand, they’re making it impossible to deliver it.
‘‘I’ve talked to some hospitality people and the look in their eyes and their body language is pretty worrying, they’re under so much pressure.’
“There’s one I’ve been talking to who’s been advertising for a chef for two years … he just can’t get anyone.”