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Expat Kiwis: Come Home For What?

7 March 2005

Expat Kiwis: Come Home For What?

“Ask yourself, if you are an overseas-based Kiwi in a highly skilled, high paying job, would you give it all up to come ‘home’ because the Government says we have a booming economy and the country needs your skills?”

“On the other hand, if you received a call from a Kiwi employer offering a specific job – competitive pay and conditions, removal expenses, assistance to find a suitable home and school for the family – would you sit up and take notice?”

Without specific information on real jobs available, the Government’s proposed campaign to lure expatriate Kiwis home to fill thousands of job vacancies could end up a huge waste of money for little actual gain, warns Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett.

Labour and Immigration Minister Paul Swain noted when confirming Government’s intentions to lure expatriate Kiwis to return home, that for each of the past three years an average of 26,000 Kiwis have returned after indicating they would be away long-term or permanently when they left the country.

Mr Swain also indicated that the campaign will target Australia where there are hundreds of thousands Kiwis living but where there is also a shortage of skilled workers. Unlike here, the Australian Government’s response is to consider increasing the skilled migrant intake.

“If Kiwis are returning home now in large numbers, a campaign that just targets expats to volunteer to return home to jobs with wages likely to be 25 per cent lower than Australia is unlikely to attract many more,” said Mr Barnett. “They will come home to what? Better paid jobs, better conditions, and a better lifestyle?”

“Getting into a bidding war with Australian employers for skilled Kiwis could also be counter-productive, with New Zealand employers most likely the loser in having to lift wages in order to compete,” warned Mr Barnett.

“We all want a high wage, high growth economy,” he noted. With skills in short supply in many developed countries, common sense suggests we need a targeted campaign that connects actual job vacancies to job seekers whether they be expat Kiwis or suitable migrants.


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