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Research shows immigrants disadvantaged

28 September 2004

Research shows immigrants disadvantaged in job-seeking

New Zealand is potentially missing out on valuable skills and talents by not giving immigrants a foot in the door to employment.

That’s according to research conducted by Victoria University’s Centre for Applied Cross-cultural Research. The study by Dr Anne-Marie Masgoret and Professor Colleen Ward researched the response of recruitment agencies to Chinese immigrants compared to native-born New Zealanders.

Dr. Masgoret says the research studied the response of 85 recruitment companies to four candidates with the same qualifications and work history. Two candidates were New Zealand citizens and two were Chinese citizens with New Zealand residency.

The research involved sending un-solicited resumes electronically for the four candidates to technology recruitment companies in three New Zealand cities. Two candidates, one New Zealand and one Chinese, were seeking sales positions in the technology industry, while the other two candidates were seeking technical roles.

“The results of the research showed that there were significantly different responses to New Zealand and Chinese candidates by recruitment agencies.

“This was despite the resumes showing no apparent difference in language abilities and the candidates having equivalent educational qualifications and the same work experience,” she says.

The research showed that the Chinese candidate was significantly more likely to be told there were no job opportunities and to have contact with the agency terminated at that point. This was the response from recruitment agencies to the Chinese candidate in 27% of cases compared to 3% of responses to the New Zealand candidate. However, Chinese and New Zealand candidates were equally likely to be told that there were no current opportunities and that they would be added to the agency database.

The research also showed that the New Zealand candidate was more likely to be actively recruited with direct requests for contact and requests for further information (28% of responses to the New Zealand candidate compared to 9% to the Chinese candidate).

“What the research indicates is that Chinese migrants are clearly disadvantaged compared to native New Zealand Europeans,” Anne-Marie Masgoret says.

“This disadvantage not only has negative consequences for the immigrant, but potentially means the loss of valuable employees to the New Zealand market.

“There are also flow-on effects for wider society, with unemployment or under-employment of immigrants meaning communities fail to gain maximum benefit from the skills and talents migrants bring to their new home.”


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