Pharmacy Technicians are in demand and is a role that can provide a viable pathway to permanent residence in New Zealand

If you are offered a position of Pharmacy Technician in New Zealand, you may have a bright future to work and live here permanently. The occupation of Pharmacy Technician is included on the Immediate Skill Shortage List which recognises there is current shortage of such skills in New Zealand.

How to become a Pharmacy Technician in New Zealand

To become a Pharmacy Technician and undertake basic dispensary work you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Pharmacy Technician (Level 4)) which is the minimum requirement to work in New Zealand as a Pharmacy Technician.

To become a fully qualified pharmacy technician you need to have a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 5).

You can qualify in one of three ways:

  • Part-time distance study through Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, while you do paid work of at least 20 hours a week in a community or hospital pharmacy as a Pharmacy Assistant or Trainee Pharmacy Technician. To complete a New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy (Pharmacy Technician) Level 4, you need to complete 115 credits. For each credit, it is about 10 hours of study.
  • Full-time study for around 70 weeks to complete a Certificate in Pharmacy Technician Level 5

Trainee Pharmacy Technicians usually earn $36,000 to $42,000 per year and a qualified Pharmacy Technician can earn from $42,000 to $56,000 per year.

An opportunity for overseas Pharmacy Technician

If you are an overseas qualified and experienced Pharmacy Technician it is possible for you to be accepted to study for the New Zealand Certificate in Pharmacy – Pharmacy Technician (Level 4) course if you are also offered employment as a Trainee Pharmacy Technician or Pharmacy Assistant.

Alternatively you can enrol as an international student in the Level 5 programme and on graduation be entitled to the 12 month open job search work visa to help you in finding a suitable Pharmacy Technician job – with some 88% of graduates are successful in obtaining such employment.

Employment as a Pharmacy Technician on a pay rate of $24.29 per hour or more can be acceptable for a Skilled Migrant Category Residence application if an applicant can also achieve the required SMC points.

Contact a Pathways adviser now for detailed information and a FREE preliminary assessment!

A major shake up of essential skills work visa instructions is due to affect thousands of current work visa holders and their employers from the end of August.

The government has just confirmed the main details of the changes to essential skills work visa instructions which will be effective from 28 August. The changes will mostly affect those in lower skilled roles and will now limited the period of time they can remain in New Zealand before an enforced stand-down period and restricting their ability to support partnership and dependent visa applications.

Under the new rules, similarly to the SMC changes salary bands have been introduced that will determine whether an applicant is considered Low, Mid or Higher Skilled. The salary band’s are set based upon national median earnings.

  • Higher skilled individuals can be working in an ANZSCO occupation regardless of ANZSCO skills level and must have a minimum salary of more than $35.24ph and may be issued a work visa for up to 5 years in duration.
  • Mid-Skilled individuals  only applies to ANZSCO occupations skill level 1,2 and 3 with a salary of between $19.99 and $35.24ph, they be granted a work visa up to 3 years in duration.
  • Lower skilled individuals applies to ANZSCO occupations skill level 1,2 and 3 with a salary less than $19.99ph and ANZSCO occupations skill level 4 and 5 with a salary under $35.24, they will be granted a work visa up to 1 year in duration.

Changes to Lower Skilled Work Visa Holders

There are two significant changes that will affect lower skilled work visa holders.

  • They will only be able to work for a maximum of 3 years in lower skilled roles before they are required to spend 12 months outside of New Zealand before they can be granted a further lower skilled work visa.
  • They will no longer be able to support partnership work visas nor student visas for dependents as domestic students. Accompanying family members will be required to be eligible in their own right for essential skills or fee paying student respectively.  They will be able to access short term visitor visas.

Transitional instructions for those already in New Zealand holding Work Visas

A transitional policy has been put in place to protect those people and their families who are already in New Zealand and hold work visas that will be classified as lower skilled.

  • The 3 year period will not be retrospectively applied. It will begin from the time the next lower skilled visa is issued.
  • Accompanying family members already in New Zealand will be eligible for visas that have the same rights and conditions as those they currently hold and when the changes are implemented for the period of time that the main applicant remains lawfully in New Zealand. This means accompanying partners who hold work visas will be eligible for further partnership work visas for up to a further 3 years, and accompanying dependents  student visas with domestic student for the same period.
Further Review of Policy

A further review of the policy along with associated graduate work visa policy will take place later this year. It has been indicated that the review will look into whether there is a need for more specific regional and/or industry sector application of policy to recognise the variances that exist. The review will also attempt to better classify those roles that exist but do not have a clear ANZSCO occupation and how these should be treated to fit in the salary matrix. There will also be a review of graduate work visa instructions in respect to the ability of these visa holders to support accompanying family members.

It is always highly recommended professional advice is obtained from a licensed immigration adviser to best determine how these or any other policy changes may affect a person’s current immigration situation and future visa pathways.

Proposed Work Visa changes will affect New Zealand Racing industry with the large number of trackwork riders holding work visas to work in New Zealand likely be negatively impacted by the changes scheduled for mid August.

 “The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is consulting on proposed changes to temporary work visa settings, through the Essential Skills visa policy. The changes aim to ensure that settlement expectations are clear for temporary labour migrants and that the settings enable access to migrant labour where there is genuine need.

 We are consulting on the following proposals:

  • Using wage or salary information to help determine the skill level and visa conditions of Essential Skills migrants.
  • Reinforcing the temporary nature of the visa and managing the settlement expectations of Essential Skills migrants where they have no pathway to residence.
  • Reinforcing that Essential Skills visas may only be granted for the period for which the employment is offered.”

The Government has proposed changes to Essentials Skills work visas which can be  viewed at – http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/immigration/consultations/proposed-changes-to-immigration-policy-settings-suite-of-proposed-changes-essential-skills-visa/discussion-document.pdf

In summary the Government proposes to use wage or salary information to help determine the skill level, visa eligibility and conditions of Essential Skills work visa applicants.

Apprentice jockey work visas are not impacted on by the proposed changes as these visas are not processed under Essential Skills work visa instructions.

However work visas issued for trackwork riders, jockeys, horse trainers, stable hands, stud grooms and any other stable staff are likely to be caught by the proposed changes.

Cabinet has agreed, in principle, to introduce pay levels to categorise employment into the three skill levels (lower, mid and higher) and it will be these pay levels which will determine visa eligibility, the visa term and visa entitlements in the future.

 

Proposed Essential Skills skill levels and associated visa conditions
Skill level Remuneration thresholds   ANZSCO Visa length Children & partner
Higher-skilled $35.24+ per hour And 1/2/3/4/5 Up to 5 years Yes
Mid-skilled $23.49 – $35.24 per hour And 1/2/3 Up to 3 years Yes
Lower-skilled $15.75 – $23.49 per hour And 1/2/3 Up to 1 year No
$15.75 – $35.24 per hour And 1/2/3

 

The key issue is that any work visa applicant whose pay rate is below $23.49 per hour would be considered to be “lower skilled” and will only be issued a work visa for 1 year. Assuming the situation remains that no New Zealanders are available to fill, or to be readily trained for the role, then the work visa can continue to be renewed every year to a maximum of 3 years.

Once a “lower-skilled” worker has reached the maximum duration of time (3 years) allowed on a “lower-skilled” Essential Skills work visa, there would be a stand-down period where they must spend one year outside of New Zealand before they are able to apply for another “lower-skilled” Essential Skills work visa. However they are able to apply for another type of work visa such as a partnership or student visa, or a “mid-skilled” work visa if their pay is $23.49 per hour or higher and thereby they can continue to remain in New Zealand. The 3 years will begin from the date any new “lower skilled” work visa is issued after the introduction of the new policy and any previous time on a work visa is not counted as part of the 3 years.

Trackwork riders, jockeys, Stallion Masters and Stud Grooms are all roles (with some geographical limitations) on the current Immigration New Zealand Immediate Skill Shortage List (ISSL). This means that these roles are accepted as being a skill shortage and the roles do not need to be advertised. The fact that trackwork riders and stud grooms are currently shown on the ISSL as being classified as “jockey” and “horse trainer” (skill level 3 roles)  is misleading and designed to suit the purposes of the current policy settings. This matter will need to be addressed if trackwork riders in particular are to remain eligible for even “lower skilled” work visas.

Additionally industry employers need to be particularly aware of the importance of keeping time and wage records and that these must accurately record their employee’s work hours. This is because of the nature and irregularity of work hours in the industry and the increased focus Immigration New Zealand now has on ensuring migrant workers are paid correctly. Because many horse industry employees are paid a set wage each week and which is at, or close to, the legal minimum wage (currently $15.75 per hour) any additional hours worked can very easily result in the hourly rate falling below the legal minimum wage – which will lead to problems with the visa application and for the employer involved.

There are additional implications for the family members of “lower skilled” work visa holders. Currently the partners of work visa holders can obtain partnership work visas and their children can be issued student visas to allow study as domestic students up to completion of secondary school. Under the proposed changes the family members of “lower skilled” work visa holders will need to obtain a visa in their own right and not as the partner/child of a work visa holder. This is a major change which will significantly impact on work visa holders who have their family with them in New Zealand, or are anticipating their family members joining them in the future.

It is important that work visa holders who have visas expiring over the next 12 months consider applying for new work visas before the policy changes are due to take effect in mid August in order to get the maximum time allowed under the current policy settings. It is similarly important that any family members now in New Zealand holding visas issued on the basis of the family relationship also extend their visas as long as possible under the current policies.

Pathways acts for many of New Zealand’s leading horse trainers with their staffing visa requirements.

For expert immigration advice contact a pathways Licensed Immigration Adviser.

In order to give New Zealand immigration advice a person must be licensed by the Immigration Advisers Authority (IAA), unless they are exempt from being licensed. Exempt people include New Zealand lawyers, Citizens Advice Bureau workers and education agents who are based offshore and who can offer advice only on student visas. Except for these exempt people it does not matter where a person is located in the world – if they are giving New Zealand immigration advice they are required by law to be licensed.

The licensing of advisers was introduced in 2008 in response to Government and public concerns that migrants were being exploited by unscrupulous operators and losing large sums of money. The Pathways Managing Director Richard Howard was Chairman of the industry association, the NZAMI, at this time and was at the forefront of leading the transition of the industry to becoming regulated. Some 220 advisers were initially licensed based on their industry experience and knowledge and this number gradually grew to about 500 advisers in 2012. In 2013 the Graduate Certificate in New Zealand Immigration Advice qualification was introduced and this then became the requisite requirement for advisers to become licensed. This Certificate was a 6 month full time or one year part time qualification undertaken online by the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

Demand for places on the Certificate course has always exceeded the number of places available and as a result the number of licensed advisers has now grown to over 800 – with some 570 based in New Zealand and 230 offshore (including 100 in Australia). The industry is dominated by sole practitioners and very small and diverse businesses, with variable business practices, and this group makes up about 80% of the industry. There are only three significant immigration businesses which have 6 or more Licensed Immigration Advisers (including Pathways!).

The adviser industry has been concerned for some time that the Certificate qualification was too superficial and not sufficiently comprehensive and challenging to prepare graduates for the complexities and real life situations that full time advisers see on a daily basis. As a consequence of these concerns, which were acknowledged by the IAA, a new qualification the Graduate Diploma in New Zealand Immigration Advice, will begin in 2016 replacing the existing Certificate qualification. The Diploma will also be undertaken online through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic however it will be a one year full time, or two year part time, course. Pathways’ Richard Howard is a member of the IAA steering committee advising on the formulation and content of the new Diploma qualification.

Graduates of the new Diploma qualification will only be eligible to hold a Provisional Immigration Advisers license which requires that they be supervised by a full license holder. After two years of provisional licencing and supervision the person can apply for their full Immigration Advisers License. The challenge will be whether sufficient full license holders will put themselves forward for the required supervision roles.

In addition to these qualification and licensing changes the IAA is also introducing more specific requirements for the continuing professional development of immigration advisers which will promote more active and directed learning activities for all advisers.
Pathways welcomes the higher standards now being required for immigration advisers to become licensed. We expect these changes will eventually effect a slowdown in the rate of advisers becoming licensed and see new graduates being more “job ready” than what is presently the case.