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.
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.