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Budget 2004 Support for migrants and business

26 May 2004

Budget 2004 Support for migrants and business

Budget 2004 allocates more than $62 million over the next four years for practical measures to help migrants, refugees and their families make a greater contribution to the economy and society.

“This package will contribute to economic growth and social cohesion,” said Immigration Minister Paul Swain.

Mr Swain said the initiatives will contribute to the government’s immigration settlement strategy, which is designed to help employers find skilled workers, and it will also enhance the ability of migrants, refugees and their families to settle here.

Four million dollars is being allocated over the next four years to Career Services, to provide specialist employment advice, information and guidance to migrants. This will target migrants who are already in jobs or who are out of work but not officially registered as unemployed, and is designed to better match their skills with appropriate employment opportunities. Many of these migrants entered the country under old policies that did not require them to be matched with skilled jobs.

Another budget initiative is targeted at adults with professional qualifications who need to improve their English skills. It will provide free advanced English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) training, at a cost of $1.6 million for a pilot over the next four years.

This pilot scheme has been established to target migrants who qualified for residence under the previous National government. Mr Swain said Labour changed the English language requirement for migrants in 2002, to ensure their English meets the standard required for obtaining skilled work. Other migrants, such as those in the family category, and refugees who didn’t need to sit the English language test, would also receive assistance in the budget package.

Other initiatives within the Immigration settlement package include: A big boost to funding ($37.9 million over the next four years) for schools to provide more English language teaching to children from a non-English speaking background. Increased resources for the Refugee and Migrant Service, ($6 million over four years) The establishment of a network of migrant resource services. (Estimated cost: $11.7 million over four years.)

A national secretariat based in the Department of Labour, to support communication on migrant and refugee settlement issues between community groups, other organisations, and central and local government. (Estimated cost: $1 million over four years.)

Ongoing initiatives outside the budget package that still form part of the government’s broader immigration settlement strategy include: Ongoing funding ($1.3 million next year) for the Language Line, a telephone interpreting service that offers 35 different languages for clients of the Accident Compensation Corporation, Housing New Zealand Corporation, Department of Internal Affairs, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development, and New Zealand Immigration Service. Ongoing employment services for refugees and migrants, announced in 2003 and delivered through Work and Income, at a cost of $21 million over four years. This enables migrants to connect with the New Zealand labour market to become productive members of the workforce.

ENDS


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