In a recent speech before a number of special interest groups, New Zealand Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove discussed a number of immigration issues affecting his country.
Cosgrove highlighted the importance that immigration plays in New Zealand's society by referring to a number of statistics showing how immigration benefits the nation's economy.
Cosgrove cited New Zealand Department of Labour statistics showing that immigrants provided a net fiscal contribution of NZD $3.3 billion in the year to 30 June 2006. This was an increase of 80 percent over 2003.
"Migrants drive innovation, give our businesses international connections, and provide a range of skills to transform our economic landscape," the minister said. The minister went on to say that "Over the past five years, migrants have accounted for 60 percent of the growth in the national workforce. Much of that growth has occurred in skill shortage areas — areas that are vital to the basic functioning and future growth of our economy."
He also said that immigration was increasing across all immigration categories. Temporary migration has increased by 18 percent a year over the past decade; 115,500 temporary work permits were issued in the 2006-07 financial year. This was an increase of 16 percent over the previous year. Over 95,000 student visas were issued in 2006-07, an increase of 10 percent compared to 2006-06.
He also noted that the Skilled Migrant Category, since being introduced in 2003, has resulted in 105,000 people coming to New Zealand to start a new life. 46,000 of these were main applicants: skilled migrants that are contributing their knowledge and abilities to help alleviate labor shortages in New Zealand.
Cosgrove recognized the competition that New Zealand faces in attracting skilled migrants from around the world.
"We must now compete for skilled migrants in a global and increasingly mobile labour market," he said. "Competition with New Zealand for skilled workers is broadening beyond our traditional competitors such as Canada and Australia, to other countries such as those in the European Union."
Cosgrove said that to maintain its edge in the global competition for skilled overseas talent, New Zealand must offer first-class immigration services.