India becomes top source for skilled migrants

Migrant population from India is set to rise in New Zealand, with the country claiming the largest share of skilled migrants.

According to the Annual ‘Migration Trends and Outlook Report’ of Immigration New Zealand (INZ), India has now become the largest source of skilled migrants to this country.

However, during the period covering 2011-2012, a majority of them were former international students, who become permanent residents through ‘Work to Residence’ programme.

Student population

It is common for international students to seek temporary jobs, obtain work visas and later convert them into permanent residence status.

The process can take up to three or four years but some lucky candidates manage to become permanent residents within a few months (Most Indians from India who have gained jobs and the invaluable ‘Green Card’ in the US began their journey in that country as students).

According to the Annual Report, the total number of people approved for temporary work visas rose by 2% in 2011-2012 compared to the previous year.

“Temporary workers under the Essential Skills Policy continued to decrease in 2011-2012, down by 1%. The number of approved skilled migrants dropped by 11% during this period,” the Report said.

Although INZ and Education New Zealand are keen to increase international student numbers from India, the largest source continues to be China, accounting for 25% of all international student arrivals.

India is placed second with 13%, followed by South Korea (10%).

Christchurch calling

The number of migrants in different categories is set to rise in 2013 and in the next few years, as the government’s programme of rebuilding Christchurch gathers pace.

Shankar Ramsamy, Research Manager (Migration) at the Business, Innovation & Employment Ministry said that Christchurch rebuild would be a major contributor to economic growth over the next few years.

“The rebuild will increase the demand for specific skills, particularly in building professions and trades. Demand for New Zealanders will be high, and training is under way to get young people in particular into jobs in Canterbury.

“We are likely to need more migrants if those skills cannot be readily met from within New Zealand,” he said.

Matching policy

Mr Ramasamy said that such an approach matched the policy of Immigration New Zealand, which continues to focus on attracting and retaining migrants capable of settling successfully in New Zealand and contributing to the growth and progress of the economy.

The Report said that the number of visitor arrivals increased by 6% in 2011-2012, compared to the previous year.

“The Rugby World Cup contributed significantly to the rise, attracting approximately 133,200 overseas visitors between July and October 2011,” it said.

The last financial year spelt a net migration loss of 3200, the first since Year 2000.

“But this trend is now reversing and a return to positive net migration is expected in 2014,” the Report said.

Brightening prospects

According to Statistics New Zealand, the number of Permanent and Long Term (PLT) arrivals reached 85,700 during the year to January 2013, accounting for a rise of about 2% over the figure (83,600) registered in January last year.

But the number of persons departing the country on PLT basis was 85,600, down by 1% (86,700) in year-to-January 2012.

Net migration in January 2013 was therefore zero.

“There has been an annual net loss of migrants since October 2011, peaking at 4100 in February and August 2012.

“Auckland and Canterbury were the only regions to gain migrants, with arrivals outnumbering departures by 3800 and 700, respectively. Following the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, departures from Canterbury increased, and arrivals decreased,” Statistics New Zealand said.

There was a net loss of 37,900 people to Australia in the year to January 2013 period. This is down from the record net loss of 40,000 in the August 2012 year.

Migrants from UK were the largest (5700), followed by China (5500), India (5000), the Philippines (2100), Germany (1700) and Ireland (1200).

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