Migrant Tales – Does NZ Really Need Skilled Migrants

Continuing  in our series of Migrant Tales  – first hand accounts of the migrant experience of New Zealand taken from locations around the web.

The  link to this tale was sent to us by a reader in response to our ongoing examination of the status of skilled migrants in New Zealand. It appeared in Linkedin groups in May 2011.

It was written by a clinical psychologist who doubts that New Zealand has any need at all for skilled migrants, the advice is to emigrate only if you already have a job offer:

Does New Zealand really need skilled migrants?

Kia ora everybody,
This is a letter my wife recently sent to the Herald. They will not publish it; so, I would like to show it in this group.

“I write this letter, directed at skilled migrants who want to make NZ their new home, with an advice: do not leave your home country before you have a job offer in Kiwiland. Throughout my journey, The Herald was extremely important in my researches about this beautiful country, and that’s exactly why I report my story to you. I know that many future skilled migrants read the Herald, and this tip can be helpful.

I am a clinical psychologist who took the decision to move to NZ almost four years ago, while still in university. Two years ago I came to NZ for the first time to visit , a trip that has only strengthened my initial decision to make NZ my future home. I enquired about the requirements to be a psychologist in New Zealand and during my graduation I endeavored to achieve them, to be able to register on the NZ Psychologists Board. I finished my overseas master degree equivalent doing more internships than it takes in my home country, in order to meet these requirements. I passed the test of fluency in English with the score needed and I was finally registered on the Board. I thought the Board’s registration was a guarantee of my skills. With the confidence that I was employable in NZ, my husband (a high school biology teacher) and I have abandoned our work, home and family… our life, in one word. Motivated by a good first interview, still in my country, and by conversations with people in the business (who informed me that it would be easier to get a job offer being in NZ), I made the biggest mistake of my life.

Today, eight months after the beginning of the interviews and almost five months in NZ, I wonder to what extent the NZ really needs skilled migrants. I did nine job interviews in total, and I had a poor performance in only one of them. In all other interviews the feedback was pretty much the same: “You did great, but you lack experience”. My English was apparently not a problem, quite the contrary, for in several interviews I was told explicitly that my English is good enough. Although I graduated two years ago, I realized that in New Zealand I’m considered a newly graduated.

What annoys me most is the fact that some of these job vacancies for which I was denied remain open, meaning it is preferable to let it vacant than to hire a professional considered competent by the Board, but that would require some initial supervision.

With great sorrow we decided to return to our home country, since if the lack of experience is my biggest obstacle I will not increase my experience while I’m unemployed. My husband, despite being a teacher for more than 10 years, has not enough English to teach. I leave with two certainties: First, New Zealand is a wonderful place, there’s no better place in the world to live. You have your problems, but they are minimal compared to what happens in other countries. Secondly, NZ could even be in need of skilled migrants, but not any kind of migrant: at least five years of experience is ideal.

Thus, for skilled migrants who want to come to this wonderful land, if you have no experience, here’s my tip: leave your country only after you get a job offer.


You may also be interested in our blog:

Jobs For Kiwis’ Still Very Much In Force (June 2010)

“Many times we have written about how ‘jobs for kiwis’ type policies were being used to make immigrants leave NZ, despite there being a shortage of local labour and how that was harming business. But, what’s really perverse is that NZ continues to try to attract paying immigrants – despite there being little work open to them when they arrive in the country.

The situation got so bad that at one point the Philippine Consul General, stationed in NZ, took the astonishing step of warning her citizens about NZ’s work to residence scheme:

Immigration New Zealand is not doing enough to warn would-be applicants about the difficulties of finding a job or telling them that Kiwis will be given preference by employers.

Immigration New Zealand continues to say what a great place this country is to come live and work in, but they cover up the fact that it is very difficult to find a job here, or that they will be treated as second-class workers under the scheme,” Ms Shi said.

“The work-to-residence is a myopic policy, because even if these migrants prove their worth in their jobs, employers cannot renew their contracts when their work permits expire, and have to first offer their jobs to Kiwis.source

Well, more evidence emerged today that employers are still being made to recruit Kiwis (even if none are available) to do work currently being performed by immigrants.

It’s ‘tough luck’ if you’re an immigrant and have laid out thousands of dollars to emigrate, believing there are skills shortages for and employers waiting for you with open arms and cheque books. Even if you are lucky enough to find work the chances are you may not be allowed to renew your visa when the time comes.” Read the rest of this blog here

For background to this problem see all blogs tagged Jobs for Kiwis .

3 thoughts on “Migrant Tales – Does NZ Really Need Skilled Migrants

  1. http://www.stuff.co.nz/timaru-herald/news/5323642/Youth-jobs-case-of-who-you-know
    “When it comes to getting a job in Timaru, it may be less a case of what you know and more one of who you know.

    That was the perception of some of The Timaru Herald’s online readers – and supported by a Timaru man at the coalface of placing young people in work.”

    It seems that migrants are the first ones to get to know this, while being told that they’re imagining things… anything to keep the flow of money going, I guess.

    And even that idea of “jobs for Kiwis” is not completely correct, as going by this article what is more correct is “jobs for Kiwis that we know personally”.

    As one commentator pointed out(paraphrased), “community spirit gets praised during a disaster, when at all other times such an insular nature is a curse”.

  2. Why would he devote his efforts to such a place. Noble person but a sucker for punishment, putting his energies into New Zealand with treatment like that. Let them stew in their cancer.

  3. Even with a job offer, there is no guarantee it will not be rescinded when you turn up, as Dr. Sharad Paul discovered when he first arrived in NZ:
    a relevant extract:
    As a foreign-trained doctor, Paul battled to get his own practice and it was only through sheer determination – or pig-headedness, he admits – that he stayed in New Zealand. He’s adamant he won’t be encouraging his daughter to follow in the family career – politics, greed and jealousy have marred the medical profession for him.

    Born in England, Paul was 5 when his parents returned to India to be medical missionaries. It was that selfless work that inspired him then and still does today. He came to New Zealand in 1991 with a guaranteed job as a plastic surgeon registrar at a regional hospital but on arrival discovered the position was gone.

    “Until I landed, they probably didn’t think I was Indian, with the surname Paul, born in England,” he laughs. “But I never take no for an answer, so rather than quit and say I’d failed, it made me more determined to stay here.”

    Wanting more time to write, as well as the skills to do medical mission work as his parents had, he trained as a GP in Auckland and the Bay of Plenty.

    “There was some sort of medical council assessment that said I couldn’t communicate in English very well. It’s always been my first language and I’m a writer of English, for God’s sake. Some people may have been broken by that, but each of these things made me even more determined to succeed,” he says.

    Since buying the Blockhouse Bay practice in 1996, Paul has added an operating theatre to do skin cancer surgery. He’s never been interested in cosmetic surgery (his own smooth skin has nary a crinkle when he smiles) and was more concerned with New Zealand’s serious skin cancer problem. Paul has always offered free skin cancer checks and estimates the clinic has operated on 25,000 skin cancers.

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