You may think that New Zealand's immigration system is not relevant to you or your business. Alternatively, if you have been involved with an immigration application, you may have found it frustrating, expensive and time-consuming. Also, because of the news in Europe, you could see immigration as a problem and one that is unlikely to be of benefit to you or your business.
Despite the way it is portrayed in the media, immigration is not a bad thing. It certainly does not pose an inherent risk to us or to New Zealand as a whole. In fact, we should be proud. New Zealand's immigration system is one of the best, if not the best, in the world. This system, as well as the migrants themselves, has brought enormous benefits to New Zealand. Immigration brings growth and development.
How can my business benefit from migration?
The benefits of hiring a migrant are greater than that of simply filling a gap in your workforce.
Employees from different backgrounds bring new ideas and generate new ways to get the job done. This will make your business more resilient and give you the competitive edge. Your customers will benefit. Your workplace will also benefit because the common bond will be getting the job done, not just a shared ethnic background.
New Zealand's history shows us what is achieved by welcoming in those from outside. Our country is what it is today because its citizens are all migrants from various backgrounds, whether they arrived yesterday or 800 years ago. A great many of New Zealand's "home-grown" large businesses were started by someone who had immigrated here. For example the parents of Woolf Fisher and Maurice Paykel who founded Fisher and Paykel or Assis Abraham Corban, the founder of Corbans wines.
There is plenty of research and assistance in this area to help you and your management team make an informed decision about the benefits of employing a diverse workforce. A good place to start is the EEO Trust.
What about the risks?
The real risk to your business is not engaging a more diverse workforce, because your competitors will.
Many employers believe that a migrant will not be able to adapt to New Zealand. Or, they worry that a migrant would not be able to communicate with his or her colleagues. The evidence does not support this. In fact, London School of Economics research has shown that people who move to another country are, by their very nature, a self-selected group with initiative and the ability to adapt to a new environment. In other words, by employing someone from overseas you are already hiring someone with initiative and a "can-do" attitude.
If we encourage migration, won't we have problems like Europe does?
The people who are crossing the borders into Western Europe are doing so because they cannot live in their home countries, mainly due to war, such as the civil war in Syria. They also cannot live in the refugee camps. International donors have not provided the UN with promised funds to feed or provide medical treatment to refugees. For example, the most vulnerable refugees in Lebanon have just $13 a month for food and the rations of some, living in camps in Chad, will cease at the end of this year. Therefore, many people are left with little option other than to take great risks to travel across the Mediterranean or overland to Europe to get to safety, obtain food and/or medical treatment. Most of them would happily return to live in their own homes if they could do so.
The number of people in this situation is now greater than at the end of World War Two. Yet even then, when New Zealand did not enjoy such economic prosperity as now, we offered homes to at least 2000 people. People coming to New Zealand from unrest overseas have made significant contributions to New Zealand. There is no doubt that the people we welcome could also become great assets to our country.
Where do I start?
If you wish to grow the diversity in your business by employing someone from abroad, the first step is to identify a potential candidate. This may mean looking at adopting a more thorough recruitment process, particularly as you may need to show you cannot find a suitable New Zealand citizen for the job to ease the immigration process.
Once you have identified a candidate, you and/or the candidate may need immigration assistance, which is what we are experts in. We can certainly ensure that the process is not frustrating, expensive or time-consuming for you or your new employee.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.