Salvation Army slams population ponzi

By Leith van Onselen

The Salvation Army has entered the debate over New Zealand’s high immigration program, releasing a report that is critical of the Government’s immigration settings and calling for a “broad public debate” around immigration:

Over the past three years, we have seen record net migration that is not just the result of fewer New Zealanders leaving for Australia but also a deliberate policy of allowing more people to migrate here…

Over the past three years, the Government approved an average of 114,000 migrant visas against an average of 84,000 such visas over the previous decade. An increase of this scale is not due to policy miscalculation, so must be seen as a deliberate shift in policy priorities. The reason, and even any announcement that a shift in policy has occurred, has not been given—the change has simply happened.

Migration increases of this order are bound to have an impact on local labour markets, yet there appears to be little regard for such impacts in the way immigration policy is being administered. Only 13% of work visa approvals record an assessment of the need for that migrant’s skills…

Just one-third of these have a job arranged before they arrive and there is little evidence that Immigration New Zealand is checking if the labour market is short of the skills these migrants bring…

It is difficult to know what is driving current immigration policy settings, although it seems employers are lobbying Government for more liberal settings.

Migration is the soft option if we think about the future of ‘New Zealand Inc’. Simply continuing to import apparently skilled labour to fill current skill and labour shortages is an easy, short-term solution, but it avoids the broader society-wide issues of what to do about the skills deficit of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders and of accommodating and catering for the needs of migrants. While individual employers are not to blame for the shortages of suitably skilled and focused workers, industry sectors cannot be so easily excused given that it is often industry groups lobbying for changes to immigration policy….

Our current short-term fix of simply using migrant labour to fill low-paid relatively unskilled jobs begs the question: What next for the tens of thousands of young unemployed people on the margins not only of the labour market but also mainstream society?.

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…persistent unemployment among younger workers and the difficulty many have in finding a secure place in the labour market suggests their needs are not being given sufficient importance when decisions are made around immigration policy settings…

In particular, the balance between training and recruiting young New Zealanders and simply importing skilled and unskilled labour needs to change in favour of young New Zealanders…

27,000 of the 71,000 work visas approved during 2015/16 and for which occupational classifications were reported are in occupational categories that might be filled by local workers with entry-level skills. While the skills of workers in any occupational category (as in any specific occupation) can vary considerably, it is clearly the case that some occupations and categories of occupations have skill requirements that might be met through short, focused pre-employment courses and/or with on-the-job training…

There are a number of more skilled occupations for which it would seem relatively easy to train New Zealand residents, instead of resorting to immigration to fill apparent skill gaps…

Immigration will be an important part of New Zealand’s social and economic future, but let us have broad public debate about this, rather than allowing policy to be driven by the short-term interests of some employers…

Industries and sectors calling loudest for more liberal immigration policies should be required to have workforce plans that include tangible and credible efforts to recruit and train young New Zealanders as part of their response to future labour and skills needs.

Well said. I look forward to the Salvation Army releasing a similar report on Australia’s immigration settings, which have delivered the highest population growth in the English-speaking world (see below) and contributed to similar barriers facing Australia’s youth.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. As a rule the charities are normally too chicken-scared to make any statement on govt policy. They are afraid the govt will punish them by cutting their grants and special privileges.
    However I am delighted to see the Salvation Army issuing such a sensible statement.

  2. Of course after a decade of averaging an additional 84,000 pa the population has grown, so the same rate of immigration (as a percentage of the now existing population) as was occurring 10 years ago to sustain the same rate of population growth requires higher absolute numbers of people. The more you grow, even at only 1%, the bigger your immigration program needs to be in numbers each year to maintain that same rate of growth for the new higher population.
    That’s why everyone needs to have an understanding of compound growth and doubling times and that in each doubling period you have more than the whole of previous history up to the start of that doubling period as per Jimmy Carter’s accurate statement about oil usage in the US.

    • Good point. But the electorate do not want degrees to be dumbed down to facilitate mass immigration.

      If dumbed down degrees are a splendid idea, why do not Singapore or Hong Kong or South Korea dumb down degrees. Heck, why do those nations not allow mass immigration?

    • Pretty difficult for any country to maintain a stable of populatlon growth rate of population growth above the global average with sub-replacement TFR, especially while the global average continues to fall, then.

  3. Yep, the Aussie division of Salvation Army needs to say something about the immigration into AUS – which has the highest immigration rate in the OECD.

  4. All this is deliberate, a great way to screw younger generations. I’ve never had too much difficulty getting employment, since I graduated with a degree, but when I would look for part time work I was always competing with international students for simple jobs like supermarket work etc.. I found it very tough in the beginning and I really feel sorry for today’s young kids.