News

More than 400 foreigners take up jobs (Northern Advocate)

Posted on June 27, 2016

More than 400 overseas workers have been recruited to fill Northland jobs, which no New Zealanders were suitable for, in the past year.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 427 workers from overseas had "essential skills" work visas approved in Northland areas in the year to the end of March.

The visa allowed people to work in New Zealand for up to five years if their employer had first checked whether any New Zealanders were available to do the work, according to Immigration New Zealand.

What you would hope is that the available skills that come from new migrants will match the job opportunities ...David Wilson, Northland Inc chief executive

The figure includes new arrivals who identified Northland as their region, as well as smaller numbers identifying Bay of Islands, Dargaville, Kaikohe, Kerikeri, Paihia, Ruawai and Whangarei specifically. Dairy cattle farmer was the most common profession among those who recorded their region as Northland, followed by chef, then retail manager.

Figures showed 40 dairy farmers had visas approved, with almost half coming from the Philippines.

A further 38 chefs from countries including Thailand, India and South Korea had visas approved as well as 28 retail managers with the majority from India.

Other professions of those who had visas approved included electrician, forestry worker and general practitioner.

Northland Inc chief executive David Wilson said the Government policy of awarding bonus points towards residency for migrants moving to the regions was a key factor in attracting workers to Northland.

"What you would hope is that the available skills that come from new migrants will match the job opportunities for those particular skills in the region and it's where that mismatch occurs that that doesn't work out as well as you would like."

Mr Wilson said skill shortages in Northland often included types of engineers and technical and professional trades.

It was up to Immigration New Zealand to make sure migrants fitted the region's needs.

Mr Wilson said migrants could provide contacts in their home countries for locals, they brought their families to the area and bought houses, which was all good for the economy.

Women's International Newcomers Group Social (Wings) co-ordinator Liane Blair said people liked the Northland lifestyle, but a job was the main reason they would stay.

She said those with engineering skills and doctors often found jobs in the area.

However, some new arrivals had a hard time finding work and ended up going home or moving elsewhere in New Zealand.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 371 people arrived in Northland under the Recognised Seasonal Employers Scheme in the financial year to May 20.

All workers approved under the scheme had employment in planting, maintaining, harvesting, or packing crops in the horticulture or viticulture industries.

The Recognised Seasonal Employer Work Policy facilitated the temporary entry of additional workers from overseas to plant, maintain, harvest and pack crops, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

It said the horticulture and viticulture industries were important to New Zealand and often suffered from a shortage of local workers.

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand this week show permanent and long-term migration to Northland was up 14.4 per cent to 2118 in the year to May.

Departures were down 1.5 per cent to 1285.