Over the last few years the demand for experienced and reliable dairy farm workers has grown rapidly, as the industry continues to expand.
To meet the labour shortfall the industry has become depended on migrant workers, mainly from the Philippines. Filipino dairy farm workers have been working on dairy farms outside the Philippines for several years now, including large dairy farms in the Middle East, Japan, Ireland and the UK. Farmers from around the country are unable to find suitable dairy farm workers within New Zealand.
Immigration Placements Ltd (IPS), one of New Zealand’s oldest companies specialising in placing overseas dairy farm workers with New Zealand farmers, said the demand has been very strong for dairy farm workers from the Philippines with the growth in the dairy industry.
IPS opened a branch office in Manila, Philippines early 2008 where its own experienced staff screen and check each applicant individually before submitting them to potential employers. This ensures farmers only receive quality applicants. Most of the migrants are coming to NZ plan to stay permanently and become residents. They normally bring their families to NZ once they have settled in – Immigration NZ policies are supportive by allowing partners and children to come to live with migrants on work visas.
Having our own office in Manila has been of considerable advantage to NZ employers, says IPS Managing Director Bruce Porteous. This allows the applicants work visas to be quickly done in Manila, allowing the migrant workers to start work immediately on arrival in NZ.
Farmers are supplied a short list of qualified applicants and then have an opportunity to do a telephone of video interview through Skype with this applicants of their choice. Once the employer has selected the applicants that meet their requirements, documentation for work visas will be arranged. It normally takes a month for the visas to be approved from receiving a job offer from an employer.
The recruitment of skilled migrants from the Philippines is regulated by the Philippines Government through the Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). All recruitment must be processed through an agency licensed with the POEA.
Before coming to New Zealand workers are required to obtain an Overseas Employment Certificate from the POEA before leaving, which IPS arranges, having accreditation with the POEA to facilitate this. The POEA oversees the activities of licensed agents and may cancel licenses if not complying with the laws of the Philippines. Without an OEC workers are unable to leave the country to work abroad. They are also required to purchase accident and life insurance, and pay a departure tax to the POEA.
Immigration New Zealand (INZ) requires all applicants to go through stringent medical tests before approving of work visas. Applicant’s references and qualifications are thoroughly checked by INZ before approval of visas, and if there are any false claims made in applications the visas are denied.
Immigration NZ will only approve work visas if applicants can provide at least two years proven work experience on commercial dairy farms, supported by authenticated documents such as PAYE receipts. Most applicants applying for positions on dairy farm through IPS have animal science or veterinary degrees, and have been working for at least two years on large dairy farms in Japan or the Middle East previously.
IPS also provides qualified applicants from Sri Lanka. Like the Filipinos many have also worked on large commercial dairy farms in the Middle East. Others have had many years’ experience on commercial dairy farms in the highlands in Sri Lanka.
Over the years IPS has supplied hundreds of dairy farm workers to farmers around NZ, from Northland to Southland. For most applicants, farmers are required to obtain approval from Work & Income to show that there are no suitable local applicants available.
If the applicant has proven supervisory experience in all aspects of dairy farming ranging from milking to pasture management, they may qualify as an Assistant Herd Manager under the Skilled Migrant Category which will avoid the need to having the approval from WINZ.