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60% Of Migrants Not On Skill-Shortages List – Why John Key REALLY Wants More Immigration

By   /  September 9, 2016  /  33 Comments

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About a month ago, I lodged an Official Information Act request with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The object of my inquiry was to attempt to discover just how many of the people applying for New Zealand Residency were actually on the long-term skill shortages list.

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OIA Result Immigration

About a month ago, I lodged an Official Information Act request with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The object of my inquiry was to attempt to discover just how many of the people applying for New Zealand Residency were actually on the long-term skill shortages list. Or, in other words, how many people coming here were bringing skills and aptitudes which we desperately need, and which can’t otherwise be easily found in the general New Zealand Population.

The answer, somewhat to my surprise, was that the figure was around 40%. Or, phrased another way, a clear majority of migrants to New Zealand – some 60% – are not people whom we vitally need on an economic basis.

Why this matters is because for the longest time large-scale immigration commensurate with a figure the size of the population of Nelson turning up in our midst every year was justified to us on the basis that these people were bringing essential skills which we needed – and that our economy would surely begin to grind to a halt if we were to attempt to seriously curtail migration numbers.

That has been the argument issuing forth from the Government Benches every time somebody from New Zealand First, Labour, or civil society in general have sought to suggest that untrammeled population growth through immigration is at least partially responsible for spiraling Auckland house-prices and ongoing escalating pressure upon already over-subscribed infrastructure and social spending. (And, to be fair, it’s not just the Opposition who’ve noticed this happening – even the Prime Minister now accepts that large-scale immigration has placed a strain upon infrastructure)

But recently, the discourse has changed. Building upon comments made by Finance Minister Bill English a couple of months ago, this week John Key added severe insult to ongoing economic injury by suggesting that the chief reason why we evidently continue to import thousands of workers not on the vital skill-shortages list … is because New Zealand workers are, variously, lazy, on drugs, or unprepared to totally uproot their lives to move half-way round the country in pursuit of a nebulous and likely to disapparate vacancy several hundred kilometers away from home. Key has even made international headlines on everything from The Guardian to Breitbart for choosing to sell out his own country and people like this.

We shall leave aside new evidence which appears to suggest that easier access to marijuana appears to correlate with *less* worker absenteeism. Instead, the portions of Key’s argument worth focusing upon are the more purely economic ones. The Prime Minister has claimed that one of the key reasons for employers (particularly in the horticultural and one would assume service sectors) to be so enthusiastic for immigrant labour is because Kiwi workers are allegedly “lazy”. The counter-claim made by Union officials and others is that unscrupulous employers in the industries in question are seeking to pay exploitatively – even illegally – low wages to their workers, which Kiwi labour will quite often not stand for.

Nor is the enthusiasm some more malevolent employers have for migrant labour confined to things like unpaid overtime and straight-up unrenumerated hours of work. Other factors include the greater difficulty many migrants have in pursuing workplace grievances or insisting upon their rights due to language barriers or a lack of domestic contacts with which to hold employers to account. Unions have also raised serious concern about the coercive realities represented by bosses being able to revoke the visas of migrant workers who speak up, thus having them deported.

From the perspective of a migrant worker, this is all obviously seriously bad. But the effects and ambit of what’s been going on here don’t just affect them. Instead, the net impact of adding tens of thousands of extra workers to our labour market have an impact upon all those who participate in same – not just the more recent arrivals.

We know from the basic and elementary economic law of ‘supply and demand’ that the more supply there is to a market, the lower the price of the commodity in question will be. Labour is the service being supplied here. Adding supply – particularly supply which is buyable/hirable at a price rather below that which existing supply is available at – drags down the equilibrium price of that labour. In order to remain competitive with those who are willing (or less-willingly forced) to work for lower wages, workers must demand less pay and refrain from attempting to negotiate for pay-increases.

It also becomes harder to ensure the comprehensive unionization of industries and workplaces when you have situations like that we saw in Christchurch in 2014 wherein migrant workers find themselves pressured by their home-governments to not join a union or enlist the aid of one to resolve grievance claims in order to remain preferable for malevolent Kiwi employers.

The twin obvious justifications for why National continues to allow in thousands of migrant labourers who aren’t on the long-term skill shortages list thus ought to be plainly obvious.

It’s because our Government are working hand-in-glove with their economically exploitative employment-offering mates to attempt to artificially depress both pay and conditions in the broader New Zealand labour market – for everyone, not just migrant workers.

Ever since the roll-out of the Rogernomics economic “reforms” in the 1980s, take-home pay in real terms has been declining for workers in New Zealand. We have also witnessed ongoing attempts by successive Governments to corral and constrain Union power. But while they have evidently accomplished oh so much economic devastation for the ordinary person through direct legislative instruments, since the halting of the ‘mainstream’ Neoliberal ‘revolution’ in the mid-late 1990s following the running out of steam of Ruthanasia etc, more insidious means to further the same broad objectives have had to be pursued.

It is deeply regrettable that so many come to our shores in pursuit of a ‘better life’, only to find exploitation and marginalization awaiting them. I mean no malice nor antipathy towards our migrant populations and those seeking accession to Permanent Residency by writing this. But the grand and impersonal macroeconomic forces that our extant Neoliberal overlords have unleashed – which push and which pulverize propelled in no small part through population-flows drawn from across the ocean – do indeed deserve calling out and commentary upon.

It is, after all, our Government’s fault rather than the ‘malaise’ of any migrant that we are in this situation to begin with. And therefore our collective responsibility, as voters and as citizens, to penetrate the murk and see what they’re actually up to.

The figure of only 40% of those applying to gain Residency here as migrants who’re able to meet essential, long-term skill-vacancies helps to show us quite conclusively that National’s priorities when it comes to immigration are not exactly in the interests of ordinary New Zealanders.

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33 Comments

  1. Castro says:

    There’s a full-scale civil war comin’… those “lefties” with something to lose do not want to see it, however, this does not render it’s eventuality any less guaranteed. Do the math. Open your eyes and ears. Wake up. Here it comes…

    • Draco T Bastard says:

      Yep.

      Revolution – the penultimate application of democracy. When the people tell the rich to fuck off.

      • CLEANGREEN says:

        True that is Draco T Bastard,

        This morning in NY John Key’s real birthplace the hedge fund mangers are being hunted down is the worst Wall St sell off since 2013 (says CNBC)

        It is a blood bath at ShonKey’s real home town.

        Wall St in melt down, and so is CNBC.

        “The meek shall inherit the earth” Matthew 5:5

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_5:5

  2. Castro says:

    Many migrants are willing participants in this scam, and know full well that it is having the greatest negative effect on those New Zealanders at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder… zero mercy or sympathy will be shown to these foreign neo-liberal colonialists…

  3. save nz says:

    Good post and great to dispel the myth that we need the migrants for their essential skills. Clearly 60% are just being bought in for other reasons, mostly political. And I would dispute many of the occupations on the essential skills anyway like being a Chef.

    Also agree it is not the migrants fault, the fault lies in government policy and the poor employers exploiting this, the developers benefiting from the housing boom, as well as the go between agents with false information and so forth putting in their applications.

    The victims are the migrants being exploited, the Kiwis being exploited and replaced by sweatshop labour and Kiwis expected to pay for it all such as with extra schools, healthcare, infrastructure and so forth.

    In addition it is changing the NZ demographics alarmingly to support very different cultural values and moving us from a social democracy to a users pays, neoliberal model that does not invest in society, rather tries to make a buck off other people’s misfortune.

    • Jono says:

      Another thing it is doing is to kill off the middle class. But that is a whole different issue. In the end there will be only two classes poor and rich. That’s how the elite want it.

  4. darth smith says:

    its simple the economy is rooted and with out inflows of cash the music stops and the collapse begins

  5. John W says:

    So 60% of immigrants applying for residency are not required for their skills but for Govt purposes of driving down wages and increasing unemployment as well as making it harder for families to meet sky-rocketing rents and house prices.

    Why don’t they state their agenda and come clean. Huh?.

  6. Andrea says:

    When do we get a big clear picture of that vague creature – ‘the unemployed’? Without the curse of percentages.

    By age group. By gender. By location. By disability. By urban and rural. By province. By training. By education. By previous experience. By incarceration and release – unless that identifies them. By time out of the paid workforce because of bias on the part of employers (older workers particularly).

    And the quality/quantity of retraining being offered, and where. Not education. Retraining for specific work because too many employers won’t/can’t. It will probably raise the standard and performance of local business by many percentage points. It’s decidedly slack and scruffy at present.

    Perhaps we can also decide whether we make particular work streams available as part of OTHER people’s OE and experience. We take it for granted that good ol’ Kiwis can turn up in Europe and other continents and get a job, never mind the locals. Perhaps it’s time our touted and proclaimed generosity made this possible for travellers here.

    • Jono says:

      That’s the plan from this government to keep it vague as possible. You see they need a large pool of unemployed to keep wages and conditions down. So they really don’t want to have any idea and skew stats to Show low unemployment helping to paint a nice but false picture.

    • Takere says:

      If only it were that simple Andrea. There’s data galore that’ll answer the queries you have. The theorem you have would make some sense if “people” were able to put into clearly descriptive “boxes” as described by the criterion given for each label you’ve indicated. Billions have spent doing this for 35+ years! It doesn’t work when there’s politicians, Commercial objectives both Government & private. The “real economy” & real world needs of society are also too be components in this equation. Do that and you will have done something nobody in NZ’s recent history has done. From RogerNomics to now ….

  7. CLEANGREEN says:

    IMMIGRATION OF SKILLED WORKERS IS A LIE.

    “Labour is the service being supplied here. Adding supply – particularly supply which is buyable/hirable at a price rather below that which existing supply is available at – drags down the equilibrium price of that labour. In order to remain competitive with those who are willing (or less-willingly forced) to work for lower wages, workers must demand less pay and refrain from attempting to negotiate for pay-increases”

    Very good article Curwyn,

    On planet Key we are all living a lie while they carry out their intended goal of KEY’S GENOCIDE OF KIWS PLAN.

    HE WANT TO BE A RULER OF A COUNTRY HE THINKS HE OWNS WITHOUT KIWIS.

  8. Mike the Lefty says:

    National wants two distinct varieties of immigrants.
    One is the wealthy upper middle class from countries such as China, Malaysia, India. They have money to burn, just what the housing bubble needs to keep it, and with it National’s illusion of a growing economy, ever expanding like a mini universe.
    The second is the mass of poorly paid frustrated workers who want to lift their families out of the financial doldrums, so they latch on to the promises of better paid jobs in New Zealand.
    These “better paid jobs” turn out mostly to be working long hours in restaurants, picking up rubbish or (if they are lucky) driving taxis.
    These immigrant workers have little concept of things like minimum wages, working conditions, employment contracts etc.
    They will accept whatever conditions are offered to them, otherwise no job. They have little protection under the meagre (and mainly unenforced) employment laws and are too scared to complain.
    When you have a large immigrant workforce who work their butts off and don’t complain you don’t have to put up with those high and mighty New Zealanders demanding minimum pay, etc.
    Having a large immigrant workforce keeps wage rates down, virtually eliminates any union involvement and keeps the profits piling up.
    That’s why National wants more and more immigration. So the sleepy hobbits can buy their takeaways cheap from the labour of immigrants and sell their already inflated price houses and sections to the wealthy immigrants.
    Less to pay, more to gain – it doesn’t get much better than that for National.

    • Tom Gardner says:

      Most taxi drivers seem to be Indian or Korean or ‘other’. Surely native Kiwis could provide this workforce? How can someone migrate here if their skill is ‘taxi-driver’?

      • Mike in Auckland says:

        They usually end up driving taxis, because with their true qualifications they do not seem to find the matching employment, hence they choose to do something else to earn a living. Either Immigration NZ is not bothering to check whether people can actually work here in their profession, and still lets them in, or something else goes wrong, it is mostly not the immigrant’s fault.

      • Takere says:

        The industry is casualised so much. You need to sit in your cab for more than 70hrs+/week to make $500.00 gross. Raise a family, pay a mortgage or rent & feed them on that….

  9. CLEANGREEN says:

    We must remember; Key has record already in the specialty in getting rid of humans.

    John Key did this same method of culling those humans who are not wanted during his former employment.

    That was when Key was employed as “The smiling assassin” in NY, UK, and Australian branches.

    As his job at Merrill Lynch was other than being a currency trader was to fool over 600 in all those branches employee’s, that should feel good about being fired or shown the door then during the late 1980’s and 90’s.

    Now we see he is doing to us now as Kiwis, as he attempts every trick in the book to exterminate us all by lack of a safety net of financial social services and health services so we are dying at ever faster death rates today while he is importing cheap labour foreigner’s to replace us all.

    Result=genocide is his game clearly the tyrant!!!!!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Key

    “Some co-workers called him “the smiling assassin” for maintaining his usual cheerfulness while sacking dozens (some say hundreds) of staff after heavy losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis.”

    In 1998, on learning of his interest in pursuing a political career, the National Party president * JOHN SLATER*

    John Slater began working actively to recruit him.

    Former party leader Jenny Shipley describes him as one of the people she “deliberately sought out and put my head on the line–either privately or publicly–to get them in there”.

    See how he lies about his shares/investments, blind trusts!!!!!!!!! (tax havens) & conservation estate mining/gold.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxRCjwYcc1I

  10. Excellent piece, Curwyn. Let’s hope the information is picked up by others and enters the public discourse.

  11. gastarbeiter says:

    Slightly off topic – If you are a Jobseeker, WINZ will only offer you low-paid low skill jobs, or send you to training for the same. This government should be assisting the retraining of older workers like myself (53) for new skilled jobs. Instead I have returned to Uni part time at my own expense – or rather because my mother died last year and I am using some of my inheritance to upskill in a particular industry. Meanwhile unskilled migrant workers are being exploited to keep wages down and the NZers who are desperate can’t even get these jobs – or the slave-like conditions are simply not acceptable

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Good luck Gastarbetter. – I went this way to after permanent injuries on the job at 47yrs old.

      After It’s still hard to get my business going properly though now the economy is flat as a pan.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      “Slightly off topic – If you are a Jobseeker, WINZ will only offer you low-paid low skill jobs, or send you to training for the same.”

      That is, because WINZ have since their start only been focusing on the bottom of the barrel of man- and woman-work-power so to say.

      The presumption by governments present and past was, to become unemployed for any medium to longer term, you must be pretty low skilled or not needed on the market full stop. So if that is the case, the ones ending up on benefits should not be “fussy” and get any job they can find for them.

      To keep the statistics look nice, they also want to ensure people stay on benefits as shortly as possible, to creating a churn of sorts, is preferable than “wasting” time and training them with any higher skills, as that takes time and COSTS them.

      The agenda is to apply pressure on all fronts, keep them on their feet, intimidate them, to go and look and take on any job they come across, to fulfill the above goals, i.e. short time on benefits, and not having people get “fussy” and make demands.

      The oppressive system works, sadly, that is why this is, it is of course fully intentional.

      It has got so bad, that WINZ itself has a crap reputation, and employers seeking “qualified” and experience staff would not even bother placing vacancies with them, as they know most on benefits are likely to be those that are considered “low skilled” and “hopeless” for various reasons.

      Hence WINZ do not even get many “qualified” jobs to offer.

      • Takere says:

        WINZ also contract out to Placement “Service Providers”. The case managers will work with the easy-to-place-“Clients” and send the rest to the 300+ contracted Providers to find some-kind of employment for a fee which ranges from $2900.00 to $4500.00 per person. Providers still get paid if they fail to find employment for the “Client” after 12 weeks. Its a scam and is scammed by private companies …

  12. Mike in Auckland says:

    Truth is, we have slave workers produce many of the products we use and consume daily, do this off-shore also, and in even worse conditions.

    The high numbers of temporary migrant workers, also students allowed to work part time, are just part of the problem, if we consider them as being a “problem”.

    Somehow we are hypocrites, that is the truth, we use gadgets, we wear clothes, and we use many things all the time, produced by exploited workers in low wage and low condition countries.

    Having them come here is an affront to some of us, as it may remind us of what goes on internationally.

    The whole world is a huge slave house, to be damned honest, and perhaps we need to wide our horizons a bit.

    Migrant labour here picks the fruit our horticulturists grow to sell on the world market, and we compete with producers in other countries, like in the Southern Hemisphere with Chile, Argentina, South Africa and also of course Australia, who ALL use cheap labour for the same kind of work.

    We produce dairy produce for the global market, in our Hemisphere, again, in competition to some other countries, so far we have an advantage, technologically, organisationally and so forth, but others are on our heels, to catch up, and produce the same as good as we can.

    Add forestry, add fisheries, add production of niche products and perhaps also medicines and so, and you will find low wage workers there, rather than many ordinary born and bred Kiwis, as they are taught by their kids, particularly the “whiter ones”, to go and “get ahead” by studying at university, at least at polytechs or so, and thus get into jobs in officers or as technical experts in the field, leaving the “dirtier” and unattractive, repetitive work mostly to migrants.

    Key and Co get away with all this, as the majority of the middle class like to identify with the better off, and the middle class in similar countries, wanting their standard of living and lifestyles, which you can only afford with a university degree, an good trade or by running a successful small to medium size business.

    They have NO damned problem with low wage workers from the Philippines harvest the eggs they buy, milk the milk they buy and sit at the checkouts at the supermarkets. They have no problem with the low paid migrants serve them fancy dishes in restaurants, no questions asked what they earn and how.

    This is the real problem in New Zealand and the world, they also do not really care whether workers at Foxconn in China work 12 hour shifts behind windows with bars, so they do not jump and commit suicide, they have no issues with sweat shop workers stitching their clothes together.

    It is a global problem, and this migrant labour does mostly not take New Zealander’s jobs, as it is doing jobs most Kiwis do not like to do, unless they have to.

    I am sorry to mention this, but we need to think further than just raise this issue about migrants being allowed in, the whole plan we follow is BS and takes us to the cliff eventually.

    Many of the Pasifika people were also brought here in the 1970s to do the “dirty” work, remember, so now we are having the next round of migration for the low paid jobs, the US do it, Australia do it, Canada does it, the UK does it and Europe does it, they are all doing the same.

    That is why so many are not on the required skills list, they are discretely allowed in for the above stated purposes.

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      Correction:

      ” they are taught by their kids, particularly the “whiter ones”, to go and “get ahead” by studying at university, at least at polytechs or so..”

      is wrong of course, …

      That was meant to say “they are taught by their PARENTS…”, of course.

  13. Mike in Auckland says:

    So here we are talking of persons granted residence status, which is somewhat different a status for those over 200,000 that have over recent times been granted temporary work visas or permits.

    There are of course various reasons why immigrants get granted residency. Some will have come here as partners of New Zealand residents or citizens, some will have come as business investor category migrants, some will perhaps also be refugees that have been accepted as residents, others may already have been here on temporary work permits.

    We should perhaps rather look at those getting work permits or visas, and check, whether they have qualifications that are on the Long term Skill Shortage list.

  14. Pete says:

    You are missing the point! And the result is racist crap in the comments – where am I? Whale Oil? Rightwing Resistiance?

    Skilled Migrant Category has a target of 26,000 annually. So they are not even meeting this over a two year period. Meanwhile in the financial year 2015/16, over 200,000 work visas were approved.

    “some 60% are not people whom we vitally need on an economic basis” -what utter nationalist rubbish is this? Stop playing into the hand of the capitalists.

    • Actually, Peter, Curwen has made some pertinent points and backed it up with data. This isn’t right-wing bigotry because the flood of migrant labour is driving down local wages – something that people who profess to be on the side of workers should be concerned about.

      As for your statement;

      Skilled Migrant Category has a target of 26,000 annually. So they are not even meeting this over a two year period. Meanwhile in the financial year 2015/16, over 200,000 work visas were approved.

      – it would help if you provided references to your figures. Without citation, we have no way of knowing how accurate they are.

  15. LOSTRELIC says:

    Excellent work. Thanks for this, Curwen!

  16. Andrew says:

    So 40% are on the skills shortage list

    What percentage are relatives of residents?

    What percentage are students applying for study here?

    What percentage are investor applicants?

    What percentage are refugees?

    • Mike in Auckland says:

      You stole some of the contents of my comment above, Andrew, copyright infringement, I’d say.

      • Andrew says:

        Yes indeed Mike. Apologies.

        My main concern was the author was picking out a number and using it to push an issue out of context.

        On another day with another axe to grind the same person might be complaining this government wasn’t letting in enough refugees. You can’t have your cake and eat it!

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