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Immigration challenges in the tech sector

TOP Policy #2: Smarter Immigration talked about clamping down on some of the immigration rorts that are letting in too many low skilled people to the country. But we also talked about making it easier for Aotearoa New Zealand to be the place that talent wants to live. 

With events like Brexit and the election of Trump overseas, we have a real opportunity to attract the best people here to live, work and play. This could be a real boost for our top businesses that are struggling to hire enough skilled locals, and these sorts of migrants tend to add a huge amount of value to the economy. But as this video shows we have to get smarter with the way we treat skilled people if we want to take up this opportunity.

Geoff discusses the issues facing migrants in the tech sector with Laura Reitel from Wellington's Creative HQ. 

Showing 4 reactions

  • Graham Bull
    commented 2017-01-21 19:30:01 +1300
    Just been reading about problems of nationalism and border controls. Some are suggesting strict border controls are not ethical and that freedom of movement is an elementary human right-see Teresa Hayter 2003: The Case against Immigration Controls. Opportunity Party’s policies not progressive enough for me and is merely concerned with what others can do for us rather than what we can do for others.
  • Gordon Ngai
    commented 2017-01-21 10:56:31 +1300
    Being myself in the tech sector, I think I can say a few words here.

    Firstly, the IT technology has been changing very rapidly in the last few years. All the latest skills are only with the industry not local university. For example say machine learning, Google Brain Team open-sourced TensorFlow in 2016. You can learn it online from Google not from University.

    Secondly, the industry does have its own qualifications. For example, one of my friends recently moved from Hong Kong to London. He is a IBM certified expert in one of the IBM products. Within a few weeks, he was employed as a contractor on the daily rate of 400 pound.

    In order to compete globally, we should make it easier for the employer to recruit skilled IT staff from oversea basing on industry qualification and not academic qualification.
  • Oliver Krollmann
    commented 2017-01-19 18:35:02 +1300
    I’m afraid I have to disagree with Laura’s assessment of the NZ immigration policies. It’s not as bad as it sounds. My wife and I are such “self-taught” IT techies, and we don’t have academic qualifications or degrees (I went to university for 2 years but didn’t graduate). We came to NZ in March 2009 on visitor visas and started looking for work from inside the country. We both found jobs independently of each other within just 4 weeks, despite the global financial crisis and recession caused by the 2007/2008 draught. We hired an accredited immigration consultant to help us with the paperwork. We had prepared ourselves well by taking ESOL exams to prove our English language skills and having all necessary documents sent to the consultant and translated in advance. Our work permits were issued within days after sending in the application and job offer, and from there applying for permanent residency and ultimately citizenship was smooth sailing. In our opinion, what we had to do to be allowed to live, work and play here was fair, not overly bureaucratic, and both manageable and affordable, and our cases were assessed based on our merits of having been self-employed company owners in the IT software business in the Old World, and our industry qualifications and certifications as well as references, not some academic qualifications from 20 years earlier (when IT was still in its infancy), which wouldn’t have been worth the paper they were printed on, let alone proved our skills and qualifications in the 21st century IT industry.
    So it wasn’t too bad back in 2009, and the TOP 2 policy might make it work even better, which is why it has my full support.
  • Cath de Monchy
    commented 2017-01-19 09:02:47 +1300
    I agree with Laura’s comment that the cost of paperwork is high when seeking residence in NZ, & that the system could be more flexible for those who do not have formal qualifications, but the cost to NZ to be more flexible for a small number of individuals is disproportionate. User pays to assess individual market “worth”, as with assessment of overseas qualifications, may generate similar dissatisfaction observed by those who have to pay for an IQA. Not sure if that’s necessarily a win…

    Also, the US population, vastly greater than NZ, can accommodate less successes without being significantly affected – do we know what % of tech migrants in the US are successful in their field after 10 years? (defined as working or not working in tech.) If 25% of them are driving taxis or working in retail because they were not able to transfer skills/experience to the US market, the impact on the US fabric of life will be unnoticeable. But if 25% of tech migrants are unsuccessful after moving to NZ we do notice – the tech industry will continue to have a shortage of talent, we have high overall demand for lower skill positions & NZ people feel stink knowing we invited folk to shift their lives here but our little country doesn’t have the diversity of business/markets to meet their needs.

    Not adequately factored into your conversation was the temp visa pathway – talent lacking recognised qualifications can gain temp work visas, then with NZ work experience they can increase their total under SMC if they wish to seek residence in future. It’s possible to circumvent the issue of inadequate formal qualifications that way. Also, if they work in a high salary occupation there are alternative pathways to residence other than SMC. I really don’t think you can blame immigration policy for the woes of the tech industry. There are many other factors, some I think more relevant than policy or visa requirements. But I perceive there is scope to adjust the immigration instructions to improve outcomes for a few, without having to make policy changes.

    Just my tuppence-worth :-)