Occupations of residence approvals under the Skilled Migrant Category

I’ve started working my way slowly through the hundreds of pages of papers MBIE released to me last week about the economic impact of immigration and the permanent residence approvals programme.  I’ll write more on the substance of that material and advice later, but for now I thought I’d highlight one table from one of the 2013 papers.

Readers will recall that I highlighted a few weeks ago the rather less-than-highly-skilled nature of many of those given temporary work visas under the Essential Skills category.  I wasn’t aware of any similar data on those being granted residence visas and used a rough proxy, from the PLT data, in a post earlier this week.  Those data appeared to raise similar concerns.

But this table goes to the issue directly, and shows the top 20 occupations of the primary applicants who were granted residence visas under the Skilled Migrant category in 2011/12 and 2012/13.

SMC occupations

If New Zealand’s immigration really is “a critical economic enabler” (from the first line of the first of the MBIE papers I received), this should be where one expects to see the real quality and skills of the people who are let in permanently.  Presumably any spouses/partners of these people are less well-qualified on average (otherwise the spouse would, rationally, have been the primary applicant), there are dependent children, and of course all those other family, parental and humanitarian entrants.

As I said a while ago, I’m a bit of a naïve optimist at times.  So even having previously shown the work visa data, I was quite stunned by this table.  The top 4 occupations in both years were chef, aged care nurse, retail manager, and café or restaurant manager.  Those four occupations alone make up around 20 per cent of the total successful skilled migrant primary applicants –  the minority of those whom we allow in permanently who face any skills test at all.  Even MBIE laconically observe that, while “chef” and “café and restaurant manager” are classified in ANZCO as relatively highly skilled occupations, there are some signs/reports that many of those coming to New Zealand in such numbers under these headings may be towards the lower-skilled end of the spectrum.

10 thoughts on “Occupations of residence approvals under the Skilled Migrant Category

  1. Yes, in a sense that is my point. Of the annual residence approvals target of 47500, fewer than a quarter are subject to any sort of skills test at all (and of those, there are rather a lot of chefs and aged care nurses!).

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  2. It is likely that many of these applicants are supported by an offer of employment from a relation or friend who has also migrated at some time in the past. Nothing wrong with that but one really does have to wonder whether existing residents and citizens were given proper/fair consideration in response to the advertisement of such vacancies.

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  3. companies have foind this loop hole the retail industry hires trainee managers under the skilled catergory however after brief training course they go to what is low skilled sales assistant role the attraction is much lower wages to pay and more motivated employees who work longer hours then nz residents would

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    • Most of these are students who come to NZ and do a Business Admin course and need to have a job offer related to their course which is why the numbers are high for this catagory.

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  4. Work Visas under the Skilled Migrant Category are only issued after a employer can show that he is unable to hire a New Zealander to fill that role. Therefore it is largely market driven. In low skilled jobs that require some level of intelligence kiwis are simply not available which means that a migrant needs to be employed to do that job. The market dictates government policy for skills and not the reverse.

    With refugees we have to basically accept with the minimum of checks with humanitarian as the main driver. Who knows how many trained terrorists would be hidden within a refugee group? I agree with John Key. The fewer the safer.

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    • I disagree about skilled migrants. It is how the system actually works, but there is no need for it to be run that way. After all, the market has a solution to shortages – the price goes up. Much of so-called skilled migration now looks more akin to a subsidy to employers, at the expense of potential local workers.

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  5. I would like to see :- Every person who enters New Zealand on a skills visa should be data-matched with IRD for each year since arrival for 5 years to verify their earnings that in fact they have received wages subject to PAYE or Tax-Paid Business Income (commensurate with their Visa) for each of those years to prove that they have added to GDP (gross) and GDP-per-capita

    In other words – did they fulfil their bargain

    Not hard – unlikely that would be done – it would be a bigger job than one-off recording of comprehensive details of 40,000 Auckland property transactions each year

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    • Immigration administers the skills based work permits quite well as it is issued specific to the employer. If you lose your job or you seek another employer you have to reapply for another visa specific to that employer and it is not automatically granted. I know a Irish builder granted a skills based work permit for 3 years and got promoted into sales managers position in the same company. Unfortunately his work visa was for a builder and not a sales manager. The poor chap had to quit his management job and show immigration proof that he was working as a builder and was not working as a sales manager. He has left NZ disappointed with the difficulty with changing his visa.

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  6. Interesting story. I’m not criticising MBIE’s administration, which i’m sure is mostly pretty good, but the government policy they get to administer (and the quality of the policy advice they receive from MBIE – having just got to the end of the stack of papers I got from them,)

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