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Recruiting Immigrant Workers: New Zealand 2014

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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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Permanent labour migration to New Zealand

A distinguishing feature of permanent migration to New Zealand is that it predominantly concerns migrants who are already in New Zealand, most of whom have a job. This is mainly attributable to the fact that employment in a job considered as skilled or an offer of such weighs heavily in the points system that is used for the admission of permanent labour migrants. However, only a select set of occupations provide points, making it essentially an “all or nothing” approach. One option to be considered would be to provide more variation in the system, by giving some – albeit fewer – points also for work experience in New Zealand in lesser-skilled jobs. Adjustments in the points system should also be considered regarding English language knowledge, by rewarding higher levels.

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