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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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International students and temporary labour migration to New Zealand

Temporary labour migration is the main means of entry for labour migrants into New Zealand, and has expanded massively since the late 1990s to stand at the highest level in the OECD, relative to its population. Currently, the single largest component of temporary flows is comprised of Working Holiday Schemes. Traditionally, the main category of admission for temporary labour migration has been the Essential Skills visa, which is intended for migrants who fill jobs for which no New Zealander or permanent resident is available. To ensure that priority is given to the domestic workforce while swiftly responding to employer needs, New Zealand has a rather elaborate system. A further important component of temporary flows is international students, who are not considered labour migrants but have some work rights. The bulk of temporary flows goes into low-skilled occupations, mainly through the Working Holiday Schemes and international students. Both of these are largely unmanaged, and there is little oversight of their working conditions.

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