4. Have we lost control of the quality of our foreign migrants lately?

4. Have we lost control of the quality of our foreign migrants lately?

Answer

Answering this is tricky given that we have opened the gates to a flow of temporary migrants who are able to work. They include:

• International students – around 50,000 pa, the highest per capita in the OECD

• Essential Skills – roughly halved in numbers from their peak

• Working Holiday Schemes – around 60,000 pa

• Family Reunion – where the issue is our readiness to accept extended family of quite recently arrived migrants

• Recognised Seasonal Employer, RSE – around 11,000 pa

It used to be that the UK and Ireland provided most temporary working migrants to New Zealand. That has changed dramatically over recent decades and now China, India and the Pacific Islands are the main sources. In part this is because we have halved the number coming in under the essential skills category (and traditionally they filled the bulk of permanent immigrant numbers) and instead have boosted the working holiday schemes (as a result of bilateral arrangements with other countries) and turned to the supply of international students to provide a further chunk of the resident migrant inflow. One problem that has been identified with these folk as a source of residents is that their English proficiency is not high and that is a problem in the labour market.