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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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The attraction to and retention of labour migrants in New Zealand

In a system that is largely onshore-based and demand-driven, New Zealand’s capacity to attract labour migrants depends essentially on labour market conditions. There has been significant effort in recent years to better branding New Zealand abroad and informing migrants and employers about the possibilities available to them. A closely related issue is the retention of migrants. About 75% of the skilled migrants stay in New Zealand beyond the first five years of taking up residence. One factor that seems to encourage this relatively high retention rate is that most migrants who are selected for permanent migration have both already been in the country for some time before they are admitted as skilled migrants and are generally in an employment commensurate with their formal qualification level.

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