8 April 2024

Green List Changes Disrespectful and Ignorant

The Government’s axing of key automotive roles from the immigration Green List is a shock and an insult to the collision repair industry, the Motor Trade Association (MTA) says.

The Minister of Immigration announced yesterday that the roles of Panel Beater and Vehicle Painter – which the previous Government committed to add to the Green List – now won’t be.

“The decision is disrespectful to the collision repair industry, and quite frankly ignorant of the labour shortage pressures that businesses in this sector have been suffering for years,” MTA Chief Executive Lee Marshall says.

“The process to have these roles added to the Green List was rigorous, but the decision to revoke has shown none of the same care.”

Mr Marshall says wait times for collision repair are already high across the country, with 92% of businesses recently surveyed having at least one unfilled panel beater or spray painter vacancy; many with multiple vacancies, and some larger businesses with more than 10.  As a business concern, our survey told us clearly that staff shortages are bigger than even the cost of living.

And according to the Collision Repair Association, a chapter of MTA, the panel and paint industry is short of approaching 1000 skilled workers, or one in five roles in the industry. 

“For instance, we know of one Wellington business that is currently looking for seven panel-beaters and five vehicle painters,” Lee says.

Lee says it’s particularly disappointing after Immigration Minister Erica Stanford committed previously to consult with industry.

“Well, we represent the automotive sector with more than 4000 members, including virtually the entire collision repair sector, and we found out from the Herald.

“We will be writing to the Minister immediately to express our frustration and ask for some answers.”

It’s important to note that the decision will also impact motorists.

“They will be off the road for longer, as it will mean delays in getting their vehicle repaired and returned to them,” Lee says.

Without the certainty of residence that the Green List offered, it will be very hard to attract people from overseas, Lee says.

Putting the onus on business owners to lift pay rates also misses the mark. There simply aren’t enough skilled professionals in the country.

“Overseas workers are still strongly needed,” Lee says. “Investing in education locally is the long-term answer, and that’s something we have campaigned heavily on, but it won’t resolve today’s problem.  We urge the Minister to revisit this decision immediately.”

Please contact Simon Bradwell for further information. 


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