5 Myths about Migrant Workers

man recording cows' data on a dairy farm

When employers look for new staff, there’s often slim pickings in the local talent pool. But the idea of employing migrant workers comes with its own concerns. Employers often believe that the process is far too challenging and fear that a migrant employee is risky, time-consuming or an expensive proposition.

The reality is that quality overseas workers can be a real asset to New Zealand businesses. They can be employed to fill positions that Kiwis aren’t willing to fill and migrants typically appreciate the advantages of New Zealand’s strong employment law, good working conditions and career progression opportunities.

To set the record straight about employing migrants, we’ve compiled a list of the top five misconceptions that employers have about migrant workers.

1. Their English is poor

Communication is critical in any industry, whether you’re a chef in a kitchen, milking cows, or operating machinery. So it’s no wonder employers’ chief concern when considering employing migrant workers is their level of English. CC Recruitment employs predominantly Filipino workers and because English is the official language of the Philippines, workers from there have a good level of English. In fact, 70% – 80% of the workers that CC Recruitment places in employment in New Zealand have a University degree, which was taught in English.

Regardless of which country a candidate is applying from, if there is a language difficulty it is picked up during CC Recruitment’s screening process. The video interview means if a candidate isn’t able to properly communicate in English, they will not be nominated as a suitable employee.

2. They don’t have specialist skills

The low-skilled visa category is really a misnomer, because even a dairy farm assistant, who typically falls into a low income and low-skilled bracket, must have a number of specialised skills as well as knowledge to fulfil the obligations of the position. Across the board, employers are looking for a vast range of skills and knowledge across industries. Thankfully, there is no shortage of candidates applying for positions in New Zealand – we find placements for over 150 offshore candidates each year. This means from a large pool of experienced applicants, the candidate with the right skills, experience and knowledge is matched with the right job position.

Dairy farmers are often particularly concerned about the ability of migrant workers to operate specialised machinery, or to service machinery. We always address these concerns, whether by matching exact skills to jobs, or by facilitating the employee to gain a machine license, or by suggesting implementation of a standard servicing regime.

3. They aren’t suitable for higher-level employment

Many workers that come to New Zealand are looking for a better life for themselves and often their spouse and family. In the low-skilled category a candidate can currently only obtain a visa for one year at a time. This means each year they have to re-apply. Additionally, in the low-skilled category they can’t apply for their family to join them. This means that many workers are keen to gain the experience, skills and qualifications necessary to enter the mid-skilled category, which allows family to apply for visas and is also linked to a higher rate of pay. The effect is that workers in the low-skilled category often work hard to prove themselves to their employees in order to progress within the company.

CC Recruitment is at hand to offer employers advice about the process of moving to the three-year or five-year visa and share knowledge on what will be required to meet Immigration NZ’s standards.

4. It’s really difficult and expensive to hire immigrant workers

If we’re honest, the process for employing migrant workers is far from straight forward. The reason for this is because immigration settings are constantly changing in response to the social and political landscape in New Zealand. The application process is complicated, but that’s why we employ two fulltime immigration specialists. Our team is always across changes that are occurring in immigration policy and we constantly make tweaks to our process to enable our candidates’ visas to be processed quickly and with a positive end result.

Consider that recruitment agencies who recruit locally charge between 12% and 20% of salary – in comparison employing a migrant worker is far cheaper. Our standard fee of $5,000 per candidate covers the entire recruitment process and is only 10% of the average $50,000 annual income the migrants typically make in their first year.

Plus, we offer a six-month replacement guarantee, which means if for whatever reason the employee doesn’t work out, we will replace them with a new, suitably qualified worker.

5. They’re a threat to Kiwis’ jobs

An essential part of recruiting a migrant worker, whether done personally or through a recruitment agency, is proving that there aren’t any Kiwi workers with the right skills and experience to fill the position. This means that when an employer approaches CC Recruitment with a position that needs filling, CC Recruitment will advertise locally for Kiwi employees and go through the process of assessing CVs and interviewing potential candidates. It’s a critical part of the recruitment process for migrant workers, because documentation of the process is needed to demonstrate to Immigration NZ that no Kiwi worker was suitable for the position. It’s a process CC Recruitment goes through 150 times a year and it highlights the skill shortages that exist across industries.

In the low skilled category this is more prevalent, but it happens in the mid-skilled category too. Recently we had a dairy farmer in Taupo approach us about filling a farm manager position on a $110,000 package. Sixty New Zealanders applied for the position, of which only six had the required knowledge and experience. Of the final six, three were subsequently employed by other businesses and the final three’s references didn’t stack up. It meant that an experienced migrant worker from South Africa was able to be employed on a five-year visa.

Streamline the Recruitment Process

Migrant workers make excellent employees and can fill those skills shortages and labour market gaps that are impossible to fill with locals. The process isn’t always easy when attempted without an in depth knowledge of immigration law and processes. Engaging with a migrant recruitment specialist is the quickest way to streamline the process and get the worker that is best matched to a position. If you’re interested in how the recruitment process works and how we might help you fill a position in your business, please get in touch today: sales@ccrecruitment.co.nz


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CCR Group is a dedicated, full-service employment, recruitment and human resource company servicing hundreds of businesses across many countries.
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