Brits and Aussies fare best in NZ
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2009

British and Australian migrants are outstripping Kiwis on their own soil with higher incomes and more working in professional jobs, a new report shows.

Many Asian migrants are on low incomes and struggle to find professional jobs, despite having high qualifications, the Department of Labour report says. It shows migrants accounted for 60 per cent of the increase in the working-age population between 2001 and 2006, meaning a quarter of New Zealand's working-age population is foreign-born.

Migrants from Britain and Ireland fared the best and those from Asia the worst.

In 2006, about 50 per cent of all Asian migrants were on a low income, compared with 25 per cent of those from Britain and Ireland and 28 per cent of New Zealanders.

Britons and Australians were the most likely to be on a high income, with more than half of migrants aged 25 to 54 from Britain and Ireland in the high-pay bracket.

Sixty per cent of Kiwis with degrees were on a high income, compared with 59 per cent of Australians, 64 per cent of Britons and 32 per cent of Asians.

Migrants from Australia, Britain, Ireland, Europe and North America were all more likely to work in professional occupations than Kiwis, Pacific Islanders and Asians.

Christchurch Zhonghua Chinese Society president Longyin Li said it was no surprise that many Asian migrants were on low salaries.

He has a doctorate in environmental science but found it difficult to find a job in his field in New Zealand.

He arrived in 2000 and two years later started the East West Link company, which provides English classes for Chinese students and Mandarin classes for Kiwis. He is on a low income compared with the New Zealand average."I thought I would be able to find work in my area. I tried and sent my CV, but it's not easy to get a job."

He said the main reason Asian migrants struggled to find work in high-paying professional areas was because of their lack of English-language skills. "It's not because of cultural differences; it's confidence and command of their English."

Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce migrant employment co-ordinator Jude Ryan-O'Dey said qualifications were only one of the factors employers considered. Business owners wanted people with workplace skills and experience and the ability to fit in.

She said British and Australian migrants did well in New Zealand because of cultural similarities. Kiwis could also find work easily in those countries.

Migrants often came to New Zealand with unrealistic expectations and could feel down when reality set in, she said.

- By REBECCA TODD, The Press

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