Should we be letting more foreign-born workers in? Should we be training more of our own people here? The questions constantly get asked, but not just in the U.S. of A. here's what's going on in a small country on the other side of the globe:
[In New Zealand], foreign workers are being targeted for more than 500 visual-effects jobs for the production of the next mega-movie in The Hobbit series.
Wellington-based special-effects giant Weta Digital, co-owned by Sir Peter Jackson, has asked Immigration New Zealand for approval in principle to outsource 526 positions.
Weta says most are just extensions to visas that are about to expire and the company has a great record of hiring Kiwis, but Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly is questioning the company's commitment to the local industry.
Apart from ads on the company website, she could not find evidence Weta had let Kiwis know opportunities were available, and questioned why another application was being made when Weta asked for 369 temporary work visas last year.
"They've done very little to bridge that gap. They don't want to invest in (our) people."
But Weta general manager Tom Greally said the company had proved its commitment to this country - 70 per cent of its 1,100-strong workforce were New Zealand citizens or residents. The temporary work visas were for roles that would be spilt between about 140 new employees and 250 people who were already working for the company, but who needed new visas. ...
There are a lot of people being trained in the U.S. for high tech jobs, but clearly more education needs to be done. Most of the foreign applicants the Animation Guild sees are artists with production experience, and many (though not all) command big salaries.
Unions and guilds have had the right to review 0-1 immigration visas since the 1990s. We know of a few IA unions that reject almost every visa application that comes across their desk. This is a fine strategy, only it doesn't work. I've talked to lawyers inside and outside the Immigration and Nationalization Service who tell me when a union rejects everybody, no matter how well-qualified they are, its credibility is blown to bits with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the agency stops paying attention to the union's letters.
A guild/union can be as tough as it likes reviewing applications, but it's got to have credible reasons for writing a "No Entry!" letter. Otherwise the guild's believability and leverage with the INS dwindle away to nothing. And the INS (like it or not) is the government bureaucracy the guild needs to convince.
I don't know New Zealand's immigration laws, but the country is letting a lot of foreign workers in for effects work. I understand why native Kiwis don't like it, but I'm stumped about what exactly should be done about it. (Weta can always take its moveable feast elsewhere. Isn't that the threat that's always being made here?)
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