Which countries did Essential Skills visa grantees come from in the last year?

As I’ve said, MBIE do release approvals data monthly, but it is hard to use (at least for a lay person with a spreadsheet). The temporary approvals spreadsheet is some half a million lines long.

But I decided to brave it anyway.  The spreadsheet contains approvals up to the end of March 2017.  And I was curious as to whether there was anything in the Essential Skills approvals (those for some of the more –  supposedly –  skilled roles) to back the suggestions being made by the Herald and Professor Paul Spoonley.  To minimise my effort –  and the last column of this little table took the best part of an hour –  I focused just on approvals of people from the 10 countries that were top of the list in the latest summary MBIE data (that for the year to June 2016).

There is some overlap in the last two columns.  The first two columns are June years (the basis of MBIE’s summary data) and the final column is a March year (seeing as it is still April now).

Essential skills visas granted, by country
2006/07 2015/16 12mths to Mar 17
Philippines 1695 5,408 6174
India 1943 4,812 4904
UK 4692 3,686 4086
Fiji 2145 1,973 1756
China 2749 1,823 1801
South Africa 2003 1,382 1807
Ireland 481 969 824
Brazil 1376 923 1066
South Korea 1145 828 767
United States 1493 820 837
Total all countries 31015 31766 32775

But there isn’t much sign of the patterns having changed in the most recent year.  Of the European countries, UK approvals are up a bit, but still below where they were a decade ago, and Irish approvals are down a bit, but still above where they were a decade ago.  And by a clear margin, approvals of people from the Phippines and India top the list.

Two other things caught my eye.   Total approvals haven’t changed much  –  in the last year, or in the last decade (although they did dip during the recession).  And approvals for people from China have been tailing off.  The peak year for Chinese approvals was, in fact, 2004/05.


8 thoughts on “Which countries did Essential Skills visa grantees come from in the last year?

      • The changes to policy I understand were mainly from the Phillipine government to prevent their citizens being exploited by recruiters – as explained here by one local recruiter;

        “Fegan said that while there was still a desire from Filipinos to come to New Zealand, and a desire from New Zealanders to employ them, the conditions demanded by the Philippines government’s overseas employment agency, POEA, made it untenable.

        POEA has told farmers they have to pick up the tab for all expenses, including airfares.

        These costs can amount to $10,000.

        “Our company has withdrawn from bringing them in. They are good workers, but you can get an Indonesian who is also a good worker,” Fegan said.”


        In other words, he’ll go elsewhere to exploit someone else’s citizens. Charming.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Clicking like was not strong enough. Thanks for this info – although I find Mr Reddell’s arguments about per capita GDP very persuasive it is the exploitation of workers that keeps me reading and making comments.

      Can’t resist quoting the 1st paragraph of the Auckland Uni study. “People in New Zealand are working 80-90 hour weeks for $500, being paid for half the hours they work and paying their own salary to “buy” permanent residency, a new study reveals.”. So setting a minimum pay rate will do nothing to stop exploitation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree the exploitation of migrant workers is an absolute disgrace. The very fact that so many businesses get away with it perfectly illustrates the lie around the so called “skills shortage” which apparently exists in every industry ranging from aged care to fast food. It seems to me that the so called skills shortages is simply a propaganda tool to maintain a supply of cheap exploitable labour. Taking a much tougher line on migrant exploitation would no doubt help local workers into the job market since their wages wouldn’t be undercut by such a large margin.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Your numbers seem to tie up with my anecdotal view of what is currently happening. The English test may be too difficult for English speaking potential migrants to get through. The countries such as india and Phillipines do not have better English than English speakers but they have Test orientated education systems which means that they would score higher than English speaking countries with less test orientated education systems.

    The Chinese presence is very visual, ie they have either bought or set up businesses to get in which suggests they have come in through entrepreneur plus categories, ie with $500k investment and hire 3 locals. They suffer in the English test and would have been disadvantaged by the English Test.


    • Supporting your assertion these are last years “Investor 2 category”. I wonder how many of the Malaysia and Singapore are ethnic Chinese. The big surprise is the low figure for India – they have started many successful exporting businesses in the UK – I suspect mainly Indians expelled from East Africa.
      Does anyone know if the quota of 300 applications mentioned on the immigration website of 300 is a new limit?
      1131 China
      42 Great Britain
      26 Malaysia
      25 United States of America
      23 Singapore
      23 Hong Kong
      18 France
      16 Russia
      15 Japan
      13 South Korea
      10 South Africa
      9 Taiwan
      7 Germany
      6 Canada
      6 Indonesia
      6 Macau
      5 Czech Republic
      4 India
      4 Austria
      4 Vietnam
      4 Switzerland
      3 Pakistan
      2 Belgium
      1 Fiji
      1 Ireland


      • Yes, indeed, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan would be ethnic chinese. You could potentially include Indonesian ethnic chinese in the investor categories. Japan and Korea may hate being called ethnic chinese but their written language has significant similarities and their physical appearance looks chinese.


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