Not so many people came in with “letter B” occupations, but again the list of occupations with more than 100 approvals wasn’t a great advert for the transformational productivity-enhancing possibilities of our immigration policy.
I won’t get into debates about the possible role of temporary migration in dealing with Canterbury rebuild pressures – but really, builder’s labourers? But even setting construction-related roles to one side for now, a list that has the top four places taken by beauty therapists, bar attendants, bus drivers, and baristas isn’t a great advert for the productivity (and wage) possibilities this programme creates for New Zealanders.
Frankly, I’m surprised by how few of these work visa approvals seem to have been for genuinely highly-skilled roles. But I led a sheltered life – the Reserve Bank used to periodically recruit foreign PhD economists. Then again, even in the Treasury papers I noticed reference to the declining average quality of migrants.
The Treasury papers also note (p 52) that
from a dynamic productivity perspective, we consider that migration shouldn’t provide a “path of least resistance” for growth in certain sectors of the economy. By this we mean that temporary migration shouldn’t act as a lever that keeps labour costs in certain industries down to the extent that it dulls incentives to invest in capital or increase working conditions to attract local labour.
Perhaps they had the aged-care sector in mind? Or the dairy industry?