“My name is Peter, and although I am Australian born, I have lived here in NZ for the last twenty nine years.
Technically I am not an immigrant. I moved here when I was a baby. My NZ born parents briefly stayed in Australia, had me, then returned home. I have lived in Auckland and a small town north of it. I have traveled both within New Zealand and outside of it.
What sort of work/skill-set did you have before entering New Zealand and did you continue in this when you arrived? If not, why not?
I have been NZ employed/sheltered within the printing industry since I was a teenager. Recently, I studied to become an automotive electrician at Unitec. Then tried to get an adult apprenticeship, where I discovered they don’t actually exist in NZ. Instead I was expected to work for free (work experience) while collecting the dole and ‘looking for work’ During these ‘Imaginary’ jobs, I was expected to be punctual, financially independent and work as fast as paid employees. Making my qualification relatively worthless in practice.
An apprenticeship seems to be advertised, but what the employer is actually seeking is a fully qualified or experienced person to work for apprenticeship wages. So I essentially flushed my 5,000 dollars in student loan down the toilet. Brilliant. I was forced back into the printing industry working as an assistant. For little above minimum wage.
What were your initial reactions when you arrived. Did NZ meet your expectations and how did that change?
Initial reaction to NZ teritary study and post-study employment prospects? Disbelief. Disgust. Dismay. Unfortunately, it has not changed one bit. Course I attended had a supposed pre-requisite of ‘basic knowledge’ yet they spent three quarters of the course teaching precisely that. The last quarter covered existing to older technologies. Despite this being an automotive electrical course, next to nothing was covered on hybrid vehicles, an important emerging technology in my opinion. Only one signal protocol was covered (CAN) there are four other main ones that were completely ignored. There was a dismal lack of equipment provided for the students, no off-car O2, MAF or knock sensors. Previous students had broken them all apparently. Extremely limited scanning equipment. Class of sixteen expected to share one scanner and two portable oscilloscopes.
After graduating course with an average of A+, got only two interviews. One said no, the other jerked me around for two and a half months. I visited every local workshop, and applied for everything online. Nothing came of that either. So I widened my search to include entire country. No workshop has any interest in hiring anyone unqualified/experienced.
What were the major challenges you faced and how did you try to meet them?
Lack of equipment at course. I got around this by simply testing sensors on family and friends cars outside of unitec. Lack of revelevant topics covered was partially overcome by reading up online for the theory. The lack of practical experience with different signal protocol was dissappointing to say the least. The final challenge was securing an apprenticeship. It seems I will have to move to Australia to do this. I will probably not come back to work in NZ. What reason would there be for me doing so? Dismal wages, lack of career advancement, promotion or additional training? Third world housing? An enbarrassingly condescending attitude of business owners towards staff?
What are the good things you found and what did you enjoy the most?
NZ is my home. I grew up here. I could write a novel about things I like! Beautiful scenery, some sparcely populated, unspoilt country. Fresh produce available everywhere. Interesting variety of local musicians and artists. Good friends that I have had a lot of fun knowing and hanging out with. It saddens me to see rampant racism and descrimination towards immigrants here because, despite the bad, we are a melting pot of many, many cultures, as I am fairly open minded, I enjoyed meeting and conversing with people from various places around the world. I enjoy emersing myself in the melting pot of foreign cultures that is Auckland City.
What was the deciding factor that made you decide to leave New Zealand? Was this a single event or the culmination of a combination of circumstances?
Lack of employment prospects. All the good things about this country amount to naught for me if I am unhappy in my work. I am thirty years old. I need a trade qualification behind me. It would seem I can’t get that here in my industry of choice. I could put up with or get over NZ’s other faults and issues, but lack of a career is a deal breaker for me.
How easy was it making plans to leave New Zealand, what stumbling blocks are/were in your way?
As easy as booking a one way plane ticket out. As I hold Australian citizenship by birth, I have an Australian passport. Despite living in NZ most of my life, it was easier, faster and cheaper to get an Aussie passport when I wanted to travel. The only stumbling block is all of my immediate family (parents and siblings) live in NZ. But I can come back for hollidays and visits, plus keep in touch with skype.
If you could have your time over again this there anything that you d have done differently? what would your advice to other potential migrants be?
I would not have bothered studying here. Australian government seems to make more of an effort when it comes to study and upskilling incentives for employers. Plus there are better career prospects after your course ends.
My advice would be; unless you are a backpacker, retired or independantly wealthy, seriously think twice about coming here unless you have a definite job sorted and waiting for you. To anyone coming here to upskill, forget it. Don’t waste your time. If you have a family or intend to purchase property over here, again, forget it unless you are willing to come here for a holliday first to decide if it is really your cup of tea.
What would it take to make you want to stay in New Zealand?
A miracle. E.g. The government here to get serious about training and retaining tradespeople here in NZ. Also this ridiculous qualification system (NZQA) needs to be completely scrapped and rebuilt. It is a joke. Employers getting serious about upskilling and retaining their people. Regardless of what country they came from. Landlords to get serious about offering ‘developed’ housing to tennants. If I held my breath waiting for all this I would suffocate (or move to Australia).
What are your major challenges and aspirations after leaving New Zealand?
Paying off my student debt. As soon as I leave the country, I will be charged interest again. Oh well. Getting my foot in the door of a new industry with a possibly useless NZ ‘qualification’ may result in me having to do the equivilant certificate again in Australia.”