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Posted on 13th December 2022



Since March 2022 Automotive Employment NZ have advocated to have skilled motor mechanics, Panelbeaters and vehicle painters included on Immigration NZ’s green list. Multiple levels of communication were entered into with both the former and current Ministers of Immigration by Automotive Employment NZ, including our own formal submissions.

When MBIE proposed changes to a new six-point system to commence in June 2023, this would have meant those possessing a level 4 qualification not on the green list would struggle to qualify.

Automotive Employment NZ sought the assistance of the Motor Trade Association (MTA) and Recruitment and Consulting Services Association (RCSA). Considerable efforts were made to achieve inclusion of Motor Mechanics, Panelbeaters and vehicle painters.

We are delighted to advise of the outcome and thank the MTA and RCSA for their assistance.

Had the MTA and RCSA not stepped in it would have been considerably more difficult for a private company to achieve the same result. Motor Industry industry employers and skilled migrants who may not have qualified for residency otherwise.

While Panelbeaters and vehicle painters are not included on the green list for now ongoing efforts are continuing.

Here is the MTA news release.

The decision to add skilled motor mechanics to the immigration Green List is a massive boost for an automotive industry battling a crippling labour shortage, the Motor Trade Association says.

“We are extremely grateful to Minister Wood for hearing the call of the industry, and taking this step to support businesses across the country,” says MTA Chief Executive Ian Pike.

Minister for Immigration Michael Wood today announced that skilled motor mechanics will be added to the Green List from March 2023. In making the announcement, the Minister acknowledged “listening to the concerns of these sectors, and working with them to take practicable steps to unlock additional labour… to help fill skills gaps, as businesses work towards more productive and resilient ways of operating”.

At the start of November, Trade Me had more than 1300 job listings in the automotive industry, while Seek had 1500. The majority were for motor mechanics (also referred to in the industry as automotive technicians) roles.

“This just shows how dire the shortage is,” Ian says. “It’s been the number one issue keeping MTA members awake at night for some time.

“The shortage has been hurting a lot of businesses across the country, with flow-on negative effects to communities and important Government projects.”

MTA has long advocated for looser immigration settings, and met with Minister Wood recently to advocate for the addition of roles to the Green List.

As a result of the labour shortage, MTA regularly hears of:

  • Businesses being forced to close because they can’t secure staff to fill vacancies

  • Increased mental health stress for business owners from long hours and financial pressure

  • Negative impacts on consumers, such as long wait times for essential maintenance and repair

  • An ageing business owner workforce having to defer retirement.

“Most businesses want to hire locally. However, a survey MTA ran in October 2022 found that when members tried to recruit locally, in more than 80% of cases they received either no applications, or applications that were clearly unsuitable,” Ian says.

“We urged Minister Wood many times to address this situation by smoothing the pathways for foreign workers to come here and give the industry much-needed support. We are extremely pleased and grateful that he has listened and acted.”

Previously, immigration settings in the proposed Skilled Migrant Category effectively made it impossible for migrant automotive workers to come to New Zealand, as their qualifications were not deemed high enough and they were required to earn 1.5 times the median wage.

The change will also support the Government’s road safety programmes, such as Road to Zero, and emissions reduction and climate change targets.

MTA and other agencies have a workplan for long-term solutions to engage, train and retain young people in the industry, which is clearly the desired long-term outcome.

Today’s announcement will help bridge the skill shortage within the automotive sector until such time the local talent pool is developed, strengthened and industry-ready.

MTA will continue to advocate for panelbeaters and vehicle painters, which were on the regional list but haven’t been carried over to the Green List, to be added to the Green List in 2023.