The next steps in our plan to speed up New Zealand’s economic growth

Today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a major package of reforms to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand and speed up our economic growth.

These include an early reopening to the world, a major milestone for international education, and a simplification of immigration settings to ensure New Zealand has the skilled workforce needed to build back better.

Here are the details:

We’re fully reopening our international border – ahead of schedule

New Zealand is reopening to all tourists and visa holders from the end of July, two months earlier than planned.

This will be welcome news for businesses, providing another boost for our tourism, hospitality, and events sectors and certainty ahead of the peak spring and summer seasons. It will also be a significant step for families and our migrant communities.

This is the final step in our plan to reconnect with the world, with more than 29,000 critical workers, working holiday makers, Australian tourists and visa waiver visitors already able to enter the country.

We’re ensuring we have the workforce needed to drive economic growth

We’ve announced new rebalanced immigration settings to help businesses access the key skills they need, while also ensuring that wages and working conditions are improved for everyone in New Zealand.

To address immediate skills shortages in New Zealand, we’re creating a new streamlined immigration pathway for hard-to-fill jobs. The new Green List, which includes roles like nurses, GPs, secondary school teachers, engineers, and tech workers, will make it easier to attract these much-needed workers to New Zealand.

Our immigration system will be simpler and smarter, reducing categories, bringing more online accessibility and streamlining application processes for businesses.

To keep the skills we need within the country, we’ve announced that around 20,000 visa holders with visas expiring before 2023 are being granted either a six-month extension or a new two-year visa with open work conditions, so their employers won’t be affected by these changes.

We’re also continuing to roll out our plan to grow skills at home, to make sure we have the skilled workforce we need for the future.

We’ve already seen more than 190,000 New Zealanders taking up our free trades training and apprenticeships. Earlier this week, we also announced an extension to the Apprenticeship Boost scheme which will see a further 38,000 Kiwis supported into a trade.

We’re welcoming back international students

New Zealand’s full reopening to the world is a major milestone for the international education sector, which has been heavily impacted by COVID-19.

Thanks to today’s announcement, all international students who meet the normal entry criteria can enrol to study in New Zealand from the end of July.

This is on top of the more than 5,000 students from around the world who will be arriving in mid-July, as part of previous border exemptions.

We know that international students enrich our education institutes and communities, and we’re excited to welcome them back. However, we’re also making sure we take this opportunity to turn around previous Governments’ volume-over-value approach, and ensure that all of the students coming to New Zealand are treated fairly and are looked after well.

By helping to relieve urgent skills shortages, opening up tourism and putting our immigration settings on a more secure footing, we are building on our plan to secure New Zealand’s economic future. Together, these next steps show New Zealand is open for business, and will help to speed up our economic growth.

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