• Peter Bateman
    In the current edition of Safeguard magazine, the 2019 income survey shows 20% of H&S roles are being filled by immigrants.

    What does this suggest about the availability of good candidates within New Zealand, and/or the attractiveness of remuneration available here?

    You can respond in public here on the Forum, or privately here via a Survey Monkey form.

    An edited selection of responses will be published in the Nov/Dec edition, but with no names attached. One randomly selected person will receive a prize, namely a copy of the recently revised and reissued edition of Andrea Needham's classic book on workplace bullying.
  • Lee Keighley
    Maybe the calibre of our H&S people is of such a high standard that companies can't or won't pay what they are worth. I agree with the latter. Do NZ companies really pay a good rate for the H&S staff?
  • HSQE
    As someone who doesn't get paid anywhere near what the "average" pay rates are in the profession according to the latest Safeguard statistics, I don't think its about pay at all. Its more about the overall aversion to anything H&S related here in NZ. Most people I speak to consider my job must be the most boring, box-ticking desk job there is and of course it isn't at all. I love that I can get out of the office and go and chat to our workers on site. Even my partner considers me to be an "oxygen thief" so I think its more the stigma around the profession. Overseas nationals are more prepared to do the job than NZers.
  • JTP
    Like Wayne stated above, I think its very hard to get a job as a graduate in H&S. I am doing a graduate diploma in H&S since 2018 and I have also been a H&S representative for more than 1.5 years. Have applied for about 150 or more H&S positions in the last 1 year. Have not had any success. Everyone is looking for experienced staff. How can I get experience if I cant get a job at all. I am feeling very discouraged about carrying on with my studies. I feel this was not the right choice even though I like this field.

    I think many are feeling the same way. This could be a reason why people are not wanting to get into H&S resulting in less NZ professionals.

    Also, there is no government recognised H&S regulatory body which is necessary to ensure professional quality. If there was one, NZ employers would have more trust in people who have studied H&S in NZ.
  • Catherine
    I am one of those immigrants in a H&S position here in NZ and I am shortly sliding in to HR instead. The issue I have been against is that the whole area of OHSE seems to be that it is not seen as tangibly productive. If a $ figure cannot be put against your time, the skills are not valued. When I want to spend time with people from the workshop floors, I am pushed back as it is not seen to be a productive use of their time. The remuneration is pretty poor which goes hand in hand with the business owners' view of H&S as an added bonus for a business that can be achieved and then is finished, rather than a basic, ongoing necessity. You get an understanding of the attitude towards H&S in NZ when you tell someone you work in that field. The assumptions that you are the workplace baddy, or a bossy know-it-all are very telling! This really pushes back anyone wanting to move in to H&S specific roles from operational roles which is such a shame when you think of how much people have to offer who have significant experience on the shop floor.
  • Amy Richards
    I'm a Kiwi who spent time living in Australia and that's where I did all my H&S training and experience. From my highest paid job in Oz to the one I took when coming back to NZ I took a pay cut of $52k. But in saying that, I was more than happy to take that pay cut. I worked primarily on large scale infrastructure projects in Oz and it was a brutal and toxic experience and I wanted out! Now, the most rewarding, enjoyable, and supportive H&S job I’ve ever had is the one I currently hold here in NZ.

    In saying that I do agree with the others on the general perception of H&S in NZ. I regularly introduce myself as the Cultural and Wellbeing Influencer and people love it! Much better than the collective sigh you get when you say ‘I work in health and safety’.
  • Peter Bateman
    At the risk of starting a tangential thread, your 'cultural and wellbeing influencer' is a good example of the need to rebrand H&S. FWIW, the descriptor I've been touting for the last few years is 'healthy work design'. Who wouldn't want to introduce themselves as a healthy work designer?
    Reasoning: 'healthy' because everyone wants to be healthy; 'work' because that is our playground; 'designer' because design is a positive word with suggestions of collaboration and talking with people.
    Also, it goes without saying that 'healthy work design' regards safety as a subset of health, though I appreciate some would find it hard to let the S-word go.
  • Alana Bruce
    I want to encourage you to continue your studies because there is such a shortage of H & S personnel. Happy for you to message me direct if you need to ask any questions.
  • Andrew
    I'm still pondering Peters original question because 20% seems very high to me.

    But on the issues of pay there are a couple of elements.

    Firstly employment and jobs are, broadly, a willing buyer / willing seller market. So I am not sure if it is an issue of "good pay"

    The second thing is, to hire an immigrant on a NZ work visa you have to hire them at a rate of pay the same as the one advertised with the job. So if you hire an immigrant for $65,000 then the job had to be advertised at $65,000. So, again, on this basis i'm not sure if this an issue of "good pay".

    From there the employer has to be able to prove there are no New Zealanders skilled or able to be trained to do the job. So maybe its not that pay is the issue, its an actual skills match. (I am struggling with this conclusion as I would have thought there were loads of ably skilled New Zealanders to do a health and safety job.)

    So maybe its New Zealanders arent attracted to the 20% of jobs being filled by immigrants.
  • JTP

    Thanks a lot Alana.
  • Janet Mary Houston
    Out with 5 HR Consultant friends the other night and we discussed rates as you do. Without exception they were all $35+ per hour more than I was earning as a H&S Consultant. I'm 16+ years H&S professional with Occ Health Diploma and listed in HASANZ register. I find work easy enough to get but don't believe the current rates/pay scales reflects the gravity of our role and responsibilities.
  • Sherralynne Smith
    I have worked in Health and Safety since 2015, after making a career change. I got bitten by tye Health and Safety bug when I was working in the medical laboratory industry and was elected by my team as their Health and Safety Rep. I got a part time health and safety admin role with a large charity and really grew in this role for nearly 3 years, undertaking site visits around the country, which allowed me to build many great relationships which I still value today. Working part time allowed me to study for a Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety and I graduated 12 months ago. My husband and I moved to another region when I got a new full time Health and Safety Advisor role, which I walked away from after 5 months for several reasons. I have since applied for over 60 roles around New Zealand and have been rejected because I don't have experience in forestry, agriculture, horticulture, construction or manufacturing. I have offered to work pro bono in an attempt to gain experience, but sadly haven't had any success there either. I have been fortunate to have picked up a contract position back with my original employer who gave me my break into health and safeth, which has given me a much needed confidence boost and exposure to more indepth health and safety matters, which I have enjoyed and has allowed me to grow again. My goal is to find a permanent role with more hours so that I can use my skills and knowledge to help others.
  • Andrew
    The thing you will find with HR folks is their hourly rate goes up $10 an hour per glass of wine consumed.

    I subscribe to several rem surveys and the one I use most often shows
    HR Adviser Median base salary = $73,296
    OSH Adviser Median base salary= $79,986

    (Do you see what I did there?)
  • Chris Hyndman
    It's a difficult question to answer without knowing the following...

    • When does someone not originally from NZ stop being an immigrant?
    • What is the average % of "support roles" being filled by immigrants. Is 20% crazily out of kilter with the NZ norm? Is there a problem greater than H&S?
    • Does the question consider the cultural diversity that some businesses are actively seeking?
    • Are these roles solely H&S or are other responsibilities tagged on (Environmental, Quality, Security etc)
    • Have we differentiated between coordinator, advisor and managerial roles?

    I feel that this is a question best aimed at those responsible for hiring people rather than those carrying out the role.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - YES! The S-word seems to carry a lot of baggage, not unlike working for IRD, being an accountant or a lawyer. It's more often than not seen as a policing function to protect the organisation from legal penalties and fines, along the same lines as Employment Relations and other general compliance functions - typically being assigned responsibility for being the conscience of the company and expected to contain all non-compliant behaviours despite lack of resources, recognition or support. I'm taking inspiration from Amy Richards and taking the S-word out of my profiles and CV, especially since both my head and heart are not aligned with mainstream thinking on this.

    Despite job advertisements proclaiming they want people who can influence and communicate (this seems to be a code for being expected to do the impossible without any resources or support!), recruiting managers seem to feel much more comfortable sticking with what they know and people who are unlikely to rock the boat. Especially when it comes to the S-word - they are overly fixated on technical aspects and somehow completely missing the genuinely human elements. The HASANZ accreditation framework does little to address this, so it seems like a vicious circle.
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - I love this! Thank you for the inspiration!
  • Sheri Greenwell
    And maybe migrants are more willing to accept lower rates of pay and more challenging workloads / conditions than Kiwis - that happens in a lot of roles, not just S-roles (I don't even want to use the S-word any more!).
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - great clarifying questions - important information to provide context to these statistics.
  • Andrew
    I'm not so sure about that.

    From my observations, most migrants that take "lower rates of pay and more challenging workloads / conditions than Kiwis" are the vulnerable ones who will take any job and any wage simply to get a work visa. And most of these people are hired by "Small / Medium" size employers who play roulette with MBIE on getting caught.

    Again, my observation, is most HSE type people are employed by Medium / Large employers who know (or ought to know) better than trying to exploit vulnerable people/migrants.

    Most vulnerable exploited people I see come from India and China and arent filling the ranks of HSE professions.

    Where as I do see people from UK and South Africa who do get into the profession - and they are less likely to be ripped off because they already have the points to get a decent job with a decent rate of pay (though probably less than what they earn at home) and a reasonable workload.
  • robert p
    Sounds about right. We need people in the industry that can communicate with the people doing the work. Thankfully for Aotearoa, there are people keen to bring their skills here in all sorts of roles. It's only appropriate that they get support from people who have some shared experience.

    Oh... I'd like to think I'm worth more than I'm paid. To be honest that's been true from when I cleaned the butchers after school, learned then practiced my trade, did many of the service jobs we do as adult students with a family, acted as an advocate for those worse off than most and now helped people find the safest way through their work.
  • Mike Cosman
    Hi everyone, as an ex-POM now a kiwi for 15 years and Chair of NZISM I would comment as follows:
    HASANZ has just completed the pipeline project looking at the whole marketplace and competency frameworks across its member organisations and confirms a huge and growing gap in both capacity and capability. It also notes that the number of accredited health and safety professionals is much lower than in the UK and probably Australia. Despite the HASANZ register being in operation for a couple of years there are less than 200 people on it who are able to objectively demonstrate their skills and experience against a recognised competency framework. It also notes the lack of training opportunities linked to these frameworks.
    But there is hope! Victoria University has designed its new post graduate programmes against the INSHPO framework and hopefully other institutions will follow suit. Opportunities for less experienced people are being provided by the Government Health and Safety Lead intern programme and hopefully a similar private sector scheme will be available soon.
    There is a whole day workshop next week introduced by the Minister to look further at the issues identified in the report and to develop solutions. https://www.hasanz.org.nz/site_files/11371/upload_files/HASANZmediarelease-LaunchofHASANZHealthandSafetyWorkforcePipelineReport.pdf?dl=1

    From our perspective giving members a clear pathway, educational and CPD opportunities and an accreditation process supported by a mentoring programme goes some way towards addressing the concerns raised. The salary survey does show that those belonging to a professional body have an edge so come and join us
  • Sheri Greenwell
    - What about those with MORE experience, including adjunct essential skills and competence in disciplines such as leadership, business, management, communication, neuroscience, learning and development, risk management, business and compliance management systems. communication, team-building, coaching, etc - developed through real world experience rather than studying theory and theoretical models - who don't have the MEANS to undertake formal studies that are likely to be much more 'siloed' / tunnel-visioned by comparison?

    What are safety training programs doing to ensure they are keeping pace with the real-world demands of businesses in today's context, where business leaders have a lot more on their plates than just traditional safety management and compliance requirements?
  • Rachael

    "I wasn't so much looking for a person that had experience in safety - but more a person who would be a great change agent. Anyone can learn safety skills - but hard to teach someone how to create change and do it with personality ...."

    That right there sums up approx 80% of current HSE/HSW/EHS vacancies. It's not necessarily the health and safety qualification that counts but the bonus material (a background of any other relevant practical experience or qualifications) that comes with your particular package.
  • Pia
    Well said Sheri!!!!
  • Tim Beach
    I have been in the great position of extending my H&S team by two roles in the last few months, one filled and one in the later stages. These roles have been advertised and I got a great response, however the majority of the applications were from either overseas applicants who are still overseas, with no advised work visa, or have recently arrived in New Zealand.

    About over half of the applicants had the experience or background I was looking for, so after weeding out the candidates without this and the candidates who were not in the country with the right visa's I was left with around a dozen applicants for each role. Then it came down to fit. The role that I have filled was filled by an immigrant, she had only been in the country a few weeks and is working out well. The second role is down to a shortlist and is also looking like going to an immigrant.

    Local applicants for both these roles were in short supply and for me I have in the past and did look at existing employees with no H&S qualifications and either no experience or Rep level experience. I would have also looked at anyone with H&S qualifications and not H&S experience, however some relevant experience in any job related field would have also got candidates a look in.

    Over the years, and even last week, I do get people contacting me to ask how they can break into the industry and a lot of the time it is not who you know but who you know. I do think that it is easier for new people to progress into H&S roles within an organisation to gain the experience they are looking for. There would also seem to be a number of new people getting their start with the regulator and then stepping out into company roles.
  • Janene Magson
    On the "Immigrant" side of things, an Immigrant can either come in on an Essentials Skills work visa, where the employer has to show that no NZ'er can do or have the desired skills, that is one type of visa, there is also the Work to Residensie where the salary needs to be $79k pa otherwise a visa will not even be issued and you need to be employed by this company for at least 2years.
    On the issue of Kiwis new to HS in terms of experience, other than Sherralynne, another friend of mine has studied her Diploma in HS, initiated various services to gain experience, all unpaid BUT still cant find a HS position where she will be given a chance as those hiring dont seem to take her efforts into consideration as it was not her paid job. She has been trying for 3 years if not more......and for her it has not been for lack of trying. I understand their frustration, because then you will see/ hear that a company recruits from overseas which takes longer and I do think that Kiwis feel "shafted"....
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