Canterbury Skills Shortage List

This article from move2nz is a little out of date now, relating to a November 2012 change, but is worth adding here as it affects a large number of people I see every day in Christchurch.

The idea of the Canterbury Skills Shortage List (CSSL) is to highlight occupations in which Canterbury employers are struggling to find skilled and experienced staff.

It is one of three Essential Skills In Demand lists, the others of which are the Immediate Skill Shortage List and the Long Term Skill Shortage List.

As the Canterbury rebuild progresses the kind of skills needed will change and the list is reviewed and updated every three months to keep up with this. Initially skills most in demand were in engineering, surveying and planning, but following the November update there is clearly an increasing need for trades staff with the following additions:

  • Solid Plasterer (333212)
  • Painting Trades Worker (332211)
  • Wall and Floor Tiler (333411)
  • Fibrous Plasterer (333211)
  • Brick layer (333111)
  • Carpenter (331212)
  • Roof Tiler (333311)
  • Joiner (331213)
  • Glazier (333111)
  • Floor Finisher (332111)
  • Stonemason (331112)
  • Drainlayer (334113)
  • Carpenter and Joiner (331211)

I have certainly seen a lot more trades workers coming through and have been busy all month advising people about requirements, helping them get all of the paperwork they need and putting together their Work Visa applications.

How does this affect me?

There is a ‘New Zealanders first’ process in New Zealand meaning that foreign workers can only be considered for jobs if there are no NZ citizens and residents available. Getting good information on your employability before getting on a plane is very important – imagine arriving only to find that there are dozens of unemployed people in your field meaning your chances of getting hired are close to nil.

The CSSL helps to create some certainty as it flags occupations where there is a real shortage of local workers. Not only does it mean that if your occupation is on the list and you meet the requirements (see below) you are very likely to find work, it also means you should not face the usual barriers in getting a Work Visa.

The main barrier in getting a Work Visa is the Labour Market Test – basically any employer wanting to hire you has to prove they have made a genuine effort to check for New Zealanders before offering you the job – for example by advertising the role, checking with the unemployment office (Work and Income) and providing evidence any kiwis who applied were unsuitable. This can add a lot of paperwork to your Work Visa application, delays for you as an applicant, and increases costs for the employer.

The good news is that if your occupation is on the CSSL and you are suitably qualified (see below) the employer should not need to check for New Zealanders first before offering you a job – making the whole process more transparent, predictable and safer.

Qualified and experienced

Before assuming you can use the CSSL to get work in Canterbury it is vital to check that Immigration New Zealand consider you to be ‘skilled’. This is a specific definition which relates to your occupation and also your ability to work in that occupation.

The information you need is held in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations or ANZSCO. This defines:

  1. The skill rating of each occupation – between 5(low) and 1 (high); and
  2. How experienced you need to be to do the job competently.

The example I always use is brain surgery: yes it’s a skilled job, but they won’t let me do it without the right qualification. Luckily for most occupations a number of years experience can be substituted for formal qualifications.

For example for ‘Joiner’ the requirement in New Zealand is:

  • NZ Register Level 4 qualification (for example a trade apprenticeship); or
  • At least three years of relevant experience.

It is important to confirm at this stage that the second point refers to relevant work experience you can prove as you will need to include that proof with your application.

All of the requirements for the CSSL are shown in a downloadable PDF you can find hereand may need to be looked up on the ANZSCO website. Just type the reference code (for example 331213 for ‘Joiner’) in the search box and click on the resulting link. You’ll see the ANZSCO requirement under “Indicative Skill Level”.

Watch for additional requirements
It is important to note that some of the occupations listed on the CSSL have additional requirements above those listed in ANZSCO.

For example Glazier (333111) starts with the ANZSCO requirement (which is the same as for joiner) but then adds:

… AND evidence that the work will be done under the supervision of an appropriately Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) who is licensed to supervise relevant Restricted Building Work (RBW) OR that the duties of the Glazier will not include RBW.

Knowing what these requirements are in advance is important so that you won’t be caught out and declined a visa application.

Work Visas

You have probably noted that I have been talking about the CSSL in respect of Work Visas rather than residency. That’s because the CSSL only helps with applications for temporary Work Visas. It doesn’t give you any additional benefit for residency beyond helping you get a skilled job in New Zealand.

Once you have a Work Visa you may well be able to apply for residency if that’s what you want to do, but be aware the requirements are more strict and you will need ongoing employment, not just a short term contract.

I hope this information is useful and will help many people assess their eligibility before looking for work in New Zealand.

Mike Bell

– site architect, move2nz.com
– licensed immigration adviser, New Zealand Immigration & Settlement Services


This article was posted in the move2nz.com December 2012 newsletter and is reproduced here by permission.

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