Australia and New Zealand competing for Skilled Immigrants

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According to a high-ranking official, Australia and New Zealand are seeking immigrants from the same pool of skilled workers, reports the New Zealand Herald newspaper.

Speaking in advance of a business symposium in the Australian city of Melbourne, New Zealand's Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the two Countries require the same types of workers to boost their economies.

"Inevitably there is some degree of competition - we are looking for extraordinarily similar people," said Mr. Cullen.

According to the Minister, New Zealand has a shortage of workers in the trades and technical areas, but has a disadvantage compared with Australia because of lower wage levels. Facing similar labor shortages, Australia recently announced that it would increase its skilled migrant intake by 20,000 per year.

The New Zealand Government has set an immigration quota of 45,000 for this year, but has said it would prefer to see 50,000 newcomers. However, with two thirds of the financial year already gone, just 25,694 residency permits have been approved.

To overcome these shortfalls, the Minister announced that a campaign would be mounted to try and encourage some of the estimated 600,000 New Zealanders working abroad to return home. Mr. Cullen says that his compatriots who have been abroad for many years may not be aware that their home country has a booming economy and their skills are needed. However, since many skilled New Zealanders are working in Australia at higher salary rates than they could earn back home it could be difficult to persuade them to go back to New Zealand.