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Recruiting Immigrant Workers: New Zealand 2014

image of Recruiting Immigrant Workers: New Zealand 2014

New Zealand is among the OECD countries that have been settled by migration. Currently more than a quarter of the New Zealand workforce is foreign-born. Despite being a settlement country, most labour migration is temporary and permanent migration mainly draws from the pool of temporary labour migrants. Current temporary labour migration is equivalent to 3.6% of the workforce, by far the largest figure in the OECD. An elaborate system of labour-market tests and exemptions aims to limit negative impact on the domestic workforce while at the same time responding to employer needs. A large part of temporary flows is into low-skilled jobs with little steering possibilities, and some vigilance is needed. For permanent migration, which is also among the highest in per capita terms among OECD countries, New Zealand operates with target numbers. The country faces difficulties in meeting thes targets, whose value-added in a largely demand-driven system - favoring immigrants with a job offer - is questionable.

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Foreword and Acknowledgements

This review of New Zealand’s labour migration policy is the third of a series conducted by the OECD Secretariat as a follow-up to the 2009 High Level Policy Forum on International Migration. The rationale for this initiative was the recent growth in labour migration observed in many countries and the likelihood that recourse to labour migration would increase in the context of demographic ageing. Prior to the 2008-09 economic crisis, many countries had made substantial changes to labour migration policies with a view to facilitating recruitment from abroad. With the introduction of these changes, more prominence was accorded to the question of their effectiveness and more broadly, to the objectives of labour migration policy in general. Although the economic crisis put a damper on labour migration movements, it did not stop them entirely, and interest in labour migration policy is unlikely to diminish in the near future.

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