Study deplores plight of Indian migrants

New Zealand may be a great destination for foreign businesses, investors and tourists but not so great for new migrants seeking employment or setting up their own businesses, according to a report.

Auckland is perhaps the worst in this connection, with an increasing number of new arrivals settling down in the country’s largest city finding it almost impossible to get good jobs and pursue the type of lifestyle which motivated them to migrate.

The Report, ‘Namaste New Zealand: Indian Employers and Employees in Auckland’ produced by Massey and Waikato Universities said that Indian migrants in particular faced discrimination from employers and hence were either unemployed or under-employed.

In many cases, such migrants were employed in vocations or involved in professions that were divorced from their qualifications and experience.

The Study accounted for in-depth interviews with 20 India-born employees and seven employers who had migrated to New Zealand and settled in Auckland since 2000.

“Like their British and South African counterparts, Indian migrants arrive as well-educated and highly skilled newcomers. But unlike these other groups, their employment outcomes are not as rosy,” it said.

Qualified but lowly jobs

Massey University Sociologist Professor Paul Spoonley, lead author of the Report said that although recent migrants from India represented some of the most highly qualified of all the migrant groups, they had difficulty in finding jobs commensurate their qualifications and experience.

New Zealanders may have embraced Bollywood films, the Diwali Festival of Lights and Indian cuisine, but not highly qualified migrants from India.

“They struggle to get work here,” he said.

The Study is the latest in a series of five major migrant groups.

It examined the experiences of employees and employers in finding work, setting up businesses, their reflections on relationships, leisure activities and social lives in their adopted country.

Professor Spoonley said it was disappointing to see highly educated Indian migrants with fluency in English struggling to gain employment or experiencing downward mobility in terms of employment and income.

Indians are now one of the largest migrant groups, second only to the British, with 104,600 people of Indian ethnicity living in New Zealand according to the latest 2006 census, he said.

Respondents to the Survey were a mixture of employers and employees, 60% of who were either graduate or with higher qualifications.

Their number was significantly greater than British (34%) and Korean (22%) migrants but only 45% of Indian migrants had jobs that made good use of their qualifications and experience.

“Many experienced considerable downward occupational mobility due to being overqualified, problems with credential recognition, no suitable job opportunities and a lack of business networks,” Professor Spoonley said.

Racial prejudice

About 65% of the employees who responded to the Study had experienced workplace discrimination, while 25% of employers and 35% of employees felt there was some discrimination against Indians in the media.

About 40% of employees said they had been on the receiving end of bigotry on the streets.

“When I started in the real estate business someone who I knew wanted to sell a house. The Kiwi woman wrinkled her nose at me and said, ‘I wouldn’t want to list it with you’. The participant attributed this comment to her ethnicity and found it “very insulting”.

“But a desire to live in a country free from corruption with a less stressful lifestyle and to see their children grow up in a clean, green environment were factors that outweighed difficulties they faced in adapting to their new country,” the report said.

According to Professor Spoonley, the experiences recounted by the respondents indicated a general unwillingness to employ migrants who do not seem to blend with the dominant European culture.

“However, their persistence and resilience is admirable,” he said.

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