Immigration NZ changes set to make teacher shortage worse

Published: Wed 30 Oct 2019 04:30 PM
Kiwi kids are set to keep missing out on early childhood education thanks to conflicting government policy. Recently announced immigration changes are setting the Minister of Education’s Early Childhood Education support package up to fail.
Roadblocks to help solve the urgent teacher shortage in our sector include:
• ECE centres looking to attract teachers wanting residency must offer an almost $80k annual salary, up from $55k, from 2021. This effectively excludes ECE, especially at current low subsidy levels
• Prioritising temporary visas over residency is unattractive to early childhood educators wanting to immigrate to New Zealand
• The Auckland Visa Points Policy actively drives any new overseas-trained ECE teacher wanting a permanent visa out of Auckland, where many vacancies exist
• Labelling jobs paying less than $52k, which includes almost all ECE teachers, as low-skill is disappointing and extremely unhelpful for attracting New Zealand residents to the profession, while severely restricting centres’ chances of recruiting from overseas
“It’s hard to see the Ministry of Education’s teacher shortage package succeeding under these Immigration NZ policies. We’re making early childhood jobs unattractive to New Zealanders, and almost impossible for overseas teachers to take up.
“It’s our kids who’ll miss out unless this disconnect between Ministries is sorted out quickly,” said Early Childhood Council Chief Executive Peter Reynolds.
The ECC is urgently seeking clarity from the Minister of Education on these issues:
1. If ECE teaching is officially classed a ‘low-skill’ profession, does this undermine efforts to make teaching an attractive profession for New Zealanders to study and work in?
2. Does the Minister agree that the need for low-skilled workers in industries like horticulture differs substantially from skilled workers needed for teaching our children, and that Immigration NZ’s one size fits all approach is counterproductive?
3. Is the Minister aware that after slightly opening the door for overseas teachers to take up teaching jobs in NZ, that Immigration NZ is slamming it shut?
“Overseas teachers aren’t the answer to our teacher shortage, but they’re a part of the puzzle that can relieve the pressure immediately. These immigration issues significantly restrict our member childcare centres from recruiting ECE-qualified teachers.
“Teaching is not a short-term commitment - we’re calling for better co-ordination between Ministries and an urgent review of the Skills Shortage List to sort this situation out quickly and help relieve the teacher shortage,” said Peter Reynolds.

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