20 Aug 2008

Solomon Islands to join seasonal employment scheme

6:46 pm on 20 August 2008

Solomon Islands is to be included as a formal partner in an employment scheme set up to meet work shortages in New Zealand.

The Recognised Seasonal Employment Scheme allows New Zealand employers to recruit from several Pacific Island countries when they cannot find personnel within New Zealand.

Formal arrangements have been made with Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to facilitate recruitment and visa processing.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in Niue, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark announced that Solomon Islands will now join the list.

New Zealand will also start a training scheme for Solomon Islanders wanting to further their education while working in New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Peter Silcock has expressed disappointment at Australia's decision to seek Pacific Island workers from some of the same countries as New Zealand.

Australia has made 2500 visas available to workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in the horticulture sector for up to seven months in any 12-month period in order to help with rural labour shortages

Mr Silcock says he thinks there will still be plenty of workers available despite the competition to source labour from some of the same countries.

He says the Australian and New Zealand governments need to exchange information to ensure the schemes are operating efficiently.