WELLINGTON, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government is proposing changes to make it easier for the building and construction industry to employ workers from overseas and help build the houses and infrastructure that are desperately needed, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said on Wednesday.
"We have ambitious plans to build houses, transport links and other infrastructure, but a shortage of skilled workers is holding up the rapid progress we need to make," Lees-Galloway said in a statement.
The proposed KiwiBuild Skills Shortage List means building and construction firms can go through a quicker process to get the skilled workers they need, when they can not recruit locally, he said.
"We would also look to introduce a streamlined process so firms which have good employment practices and a commitment to employ local workers can be pre-approved to bring in workers from overseas," the minister said.
In addition, labor hire companies wanting to recruit from overseas would have to be accredited to reduce the risks of these companies exploiting migrant workers and consequently undercutting the wages and conditions of New Zealand workers, he said.
"It's estimated we are some 150,000 workers short, particularly plumbers, electricians, engineers, builders and project managers so we need to make changes," Lees-Galloway said.
The KiwiBuild Skills Shortages List is expected to be in place in around six months, subject to final decisions following consultation.