Imported talent plugs skill gaps
Last updated 05:00 02/09/2009

New Zealand is plugging its brain drain by importing growing numbers of educated and skilled young people.

A new Department of Labour report shows the number of people aged 15 to 24 getting work permits quadrupled between 1998 and 2007. The group now makes up one-third of all work-permit approvals.

More than half of all young people approved for residency arrived through the skilled/business stream.

The report said the large number of young migrants was a "positive sign in a globally competitive market".

Canterbury attracted the largest proportions of young workers from Australia, North Asia and Southeast Asia.

Visiting expert Dr Thomas Cooney said New Zealand should take advantage of the talented young people it was attracting.

Cooney, a research fellow at the Dublin Institute of Technology and director of the Institute for Minority, will be the keynote speaker at the Small Enterprise Association of Australia and New Zealand conference today at Massey University.

He said Ireland had significantly changed its demographic during the "Celtic tiger boom" by tapping into a market of young mobile workers, but it had mainly employed them in service industries.

"Now we are paying for it in many ways," he said.

"If they're not getting what they are capable of achieving, then they simply move somewhere else."

The report said service and sales work was the most common occupation for young migrants, followed by labouring and office work. The number of overseas-born young people in New Zealand increased by 76 per cent between 1996 and 2001 to nearly 160,000.

From here.