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More working holiday makers good news for NZ

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Hon Paul Swain Minister of Immigration

22 November 2004

More working holiday makers good news for NZ

The number of young people from overseas able to work while on holiday in New Zealand will increase to at least 40,000 within two years, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Immigration Minister Paul Swain announced today.

Working Holiday Schemes (WHS) currently allow 31,000 people from 22 countries, aged 18 to 30 and without children, to work here for up to a year, and for young New Zealanders to work overseas under reciprocal agreements.

Mr Swain said that with unemployment at just 3.8 per cent, working holidaymakers were a good source of temporary labour for New Zealand.

"Last year, just under a quarter of all working holidaymakers were employed in our horticultural and agricultural sectors. They were also a potential pool of talent for the longer-term Skilled Migrant Category," Mr Swain said.

“Getting New Zealanders into work is our top priority. However working holidaymakers have many positive effects on the country. Studies show most of them are well educated and highly motivated workers, who have a positive impact on the labour market by creating more jobs than they take.

"Last year they also injected more than $300 million into our economy."

Mr Goff said Working Holiday Schemes created a pool of educated and talented young people who took home from their New Zealand experiences long-term friendships and an understanding of, and empathy with, the country.

"It is one of the most effective ways of building people-to-people relationships, and many go on to be advocates for New Zealand in their own country," Mr Goff said.

"The reciprocal nature of WHS means the government's decision to increase available places here will also allow more young New Zealanders to live and work in partner countries."

Other changes to the scheme include removing the cap on the number of WHS applicants from the UK, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands coming to New Zealand, in recognition that these countries offer the same arrangement for New Zealanders. France and Canada may also be included in this category, pending negotiations on reciprocal agreements.

British working holidaymakers will be able to stay for up to two years and work for 12 months. Currently they can only stay for a year and cannot work permanently, while New Zealanders can stay for two years in the UK and work permanently.

From 2005/06, an extra 10,000 places will be reserved for young people from Canada, the US, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Ireland, and Italy.

Work restrictions will be eased for those from the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden, who will now be able to work for the duration of their stay. Other schemes will be eligible for a similar easing on a case-by-case basis.

When the changes take effect next July, people will be able to apply online anywhere in the world. At present they have to go to a New Zealand Immigration Service branch in their home country.

Applicants will receive detailed information on employment while the Immigration Service will keep in touch with them throughout their stay to make sure they have up-to-date information on work opportunities.

A formal review of the scheme will be carried out in 2007.

ENDS

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