National Survey of Employers – What this means for migrants

This report provides a summary of employer practices in New Zealand within the context of current employment-focused legislation. It is based on results from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE’s) 2017/18 National Survey of Employers (NSE).

The purpose of the annual NSE is to monitor employer practices and perspectives on workplace relations and employment standards, workplace health and safety, job vacancies, and employing recent migrants. Results are used to develop and evaluate policies and programmes, and answer contemporary policy questions within the context of employment focused legislation. The target population for the NSE is NZ business establishments employing one or more employees. The survey sample is drawn from Stats NZ’s Business Register based on the number of NZ businesses within six industry groupings and four business size categories.

Job Vacancies and Employing Migrants

Migrants are very important to New Zealand’s population and workforce, bringing skills and experience that are sometimes in short supply and increasing diversity within New Zealand workplaces. In addition, the effective use of the knowledge and skills of all workers is a key driver of innovation and growth, leading to increased wages, competitiveness, productivity, and better social and economic outcomes. NSE data helps in understanding issues for employers around accessing skills both in New Zealand and from overseas.

How vacancies are filled, and extent of difficulties experienced

  • Almost two-thirds of employers had job vacancies, and employers with vacancies most commonly filled these jobs through word-of-mouth and by using Trade Me or Seek.
  • Six out of ten employers with job vacancies had difficulties finding staff to fill vacancies.
  • One in five employers who had difficulties finding staff to fill job vacancies had sought out a migrant for a ‘hard to fill’ job vacancy.

Hiring recent migrants and reasons for doing so

  • Twenty-eight per cent of employers had a recent migrant on staff and twenty-three per cent had hired a recent migrant in the last 12 months.
  • Migrants were most commonly hired for their skills and qualifications.

Difficulties with hiring migrants and resulting impacts on the business

  • One in ten employers had difficulties with employing migrant workers, with the most common difficulty being ‘difficulties with the visa process’.
  • Most commonly, difficulties employing migrant workers had resulted in the business stopping carrying out some activities/lost business opportunities.

Employers’ views on migrants’ contribution to the workforce and the 2017 immigration policy changes

  • Seven out of ten employers agreed that migrants make an important contribution to New Zealand’s economy.
  • Over half of all employers disagreed that migrants take jobs away from other New Zealanders.
  • Seventeen per cent of employers agreed that the 2017 immigration policy changes have made it easier for businesses to employ skilled migrants.

How businesses find staff to fill job vacancies*

*Sub-sample based on those employers who reported that the business had job vacancies in the last 12 months, n = 1,910.

One in five employers who had difficulties finding staff to fill vacancies had sought out a migrant for a ‘hard to fill’ job vacancy

Of those employers who had job vacancies in the last 12 months and who also reported having difficulties finding staff to fill job vacancies, one in five (19 per cent) reported that they had intentionally sought out a migrant for a job vacancy that was hard to fill. There were no significant differences in this result by business size or by industry and these results are consistent with the 2016/17 NSE results.

Hiring recent migrants and reasons for doing so

Almost three in ten employers had a recent migrant on staff. In total, 28 per cent of all employers had at least one recent migrant on staff and 23 per cent of employers had hired a recent migrant in the last 12 months. Both of these results were in line with the 2016/17 results of 25 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively. Larger employers were more likely than smaller employers to have a recent migrant on staff (64 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively) and to have hired a recent migrant in the last 12 months (58 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively). Compared with total employers, those in the Retail trade & Accommodation and food services were somewhat more likely to have a recent migrant on staff (36 per cent) and to have hired a recent migrant in the previous 12 months (34 per cent):

Proportion of employers that had a recent migrant on staff/had hired a recent migrant

Migrants were most commonly hired for their skills and qualifications

Of those employers who had hired a recent migrant in the last 12 months, the most common reason for employing the migrant most recently hired was their skills and qualifications – 73 per cent of employers of migrants gave this reason, as did 71 per cent in 2016/17. Other common reasons for employing the migrant most recently hired by the business were:

  • their experience (noted as a reason by 59 per cent of employers of migrants)
  • it seemed like they would be a good fit for the business (56 per cent)
  • it seemed like they had a strong work ethic (55 per cent)
  • New Zealanders were not willing to do the job or did not apply (44 per cent)
  • New Zealanders who applied did not have the necessary skills, qualifications or experience (43 per cent).

Reasons for hiring the migrant most recently employed were similar for larger and smaller employers. Compared with all employers, those in the Manufacturing sector were less likely to report that they chose to employ the migrant most recently hired because they seemed like they would be a good fit for the business (41 per cent).

One in ten employers had difficulties with employing migrant workers

In total, 11 per cent of employers had experienced difficulties with employing migrant workers in New Zealand or from overseas in the previous two years, similar to 8 per cent in 2016/17. Larger employers were more than twice as likely as smaller employers to have experienced difficulties with employing migrant workers (24 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively). However, there were no significant differences in this result by industry.

The most common issue with employing migrant workers was ‘difficulties with the visa process’

Consistent with the 2016/17 result of 71 per cent, the most common difficulty in employing migrant workers was difficulties with the visa process (reported by 69 per cent of employers who had difficulties with employing migrants). This was more of an issue for larger employers than smaller employers – 85 per cent of larger employers who had difficulties hiring migrant workers reported that this was due to ‘difficulties with the visa processes compared with 64 per cent of smaller employers.

The other difficulties most commonly reported (in 2017/18 and 2016/17) were:

  • getting people with the right skills for the job (reported by 34 per cent of those who had difficulties)
  • getting people with good English language skills (29 per cent)
  • retaining the workers once hired (22 per cent).

Types of difficulties experienced with employing migrant workers in NZ or from overseas

Difficulties employing migrant workers most commonly resulted in the business not carrying out some activities/lost business opportunities

Employers who had difficulties employing migrant workers were asked whether these difficulties had impacted on the business in particular ways. The proportions of employers that reported experiencing business impacts due to difficulties employing migrant workers were as follows:

  • 36 per cent had stopped carrying out some activities, lost business opportunities or revenue, or reduced quality
  • 26 per cent had redesigned jobs
  • 20 per cent had employed someone locally
  • 17 per cent had used contractors or consultants
  • 16 per cent had offered current staff better pay or conditions to get them to stay
  • 13 per cent had improved pay or conditions to attract New Zealand workers
  • 13 per cent had automated more task or processes
  • 8 per cent had experienced increased administration/recruitment costs or delays in filling vacancies
  • 1 per cent settled for lower quality or less skilled workers

Another 8 per cent reported other types of impacts and 9 per cent gave a ‘don’t know’ response to this question. These results are similar to those from the 2016/17 survey.

Employers’ views on migrants’ impact on job availability and the 2017 immigration policy changes

All employers were asked about the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with the following statements:

1. Migrants make an important contribution to NZ’s economy 70% of employers agreed that migrants make an important contribution to New Zealand’s economy

2. Migrants take jobs away from other New Zealanders Over half of all employers disagreed that migrants take jobs away from other New Zealanders

3. The 2017 immigration policy changes have made it easier for businesses to employ skilled migrants 17% of employers agreed that the 2017 immigration policy changes have made it easier for businesses to employ skilled migrants

Proportion of employers agreeing with statements about migrants’ contribution, impact on job availability and recent immigration policy changes

All information from this article is taken from Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment: National Survey of Employers

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