Bernard Hickey asks why over a third of a million unemployed and underemployed New Zealanders can't find jobs at the same time that employers want migration rules to be relaxed so they can import more workers

Bernard Hickey asks why over a third of a million unemployed and underemployed New Zealanders can't find jobs at the same time that employers want migration rules to be relaxed so they can import more workers

By Bernard Hickey

This week's household labour force figures for the March quarter were more than just a collection of spreadsheets - they were a portrait of what is working and what is broken in the guts of our economy and, in many ways, the heart of our society.

They showed New Zealand's economy is rollicking along at a reasonable clip, despite the dairy price slump, a stronger currency than the Reserve Bank would like and plenty of headwinds from the rest of the world. It generated 120,000 new jobs over the last two years at the same time as the price of our biggest export halved. It's some kind of achievement that GDP could be growing at almost 4% by the end of this year, just as dairy farmers face a third consecutive year of loss-making payouts.

Almost as if by magic, a new construction boom in Auckland is taking over from the one in Christchurch and the tourism sector has surged past dairy to become our largest export earner, thanks at least in part to the currency's fall between mid 2014 and mid 2015. The fastest mortgage lending growth since June 2008 and the household wealth effect of double-digit house price inflation is fuelling plenty of consumer spending in shops, cafes and restaurants up and down most of the country.

So plenty of work needs to be done and jobs are being generated. The strange and troubling truth is the people who want and need these jobs just can't seem to get them, or don't have the skills, or are in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong skills, or won't work unless the wage is higher.

This week's figures showed that despite employment growing by 120,000 to 2.399 million over the last two years, unemployment has fallen just 2,000 to 144,000. A wider definition of the pool of people without work is even more disheartening. It shows there are a total of 279,300 who were either unemployed, available for work but not actively looking for work, or who actively sought work but were not available for work in the March quarter. Then there's a further 101,000 people who have jobs, but say they are under-employed and would like to work more.

This combined number of jobless and under-employed was 380,300 in the March quarter, which is up from 349,700 in the same quarter two years earlier. Even more worryingly, the number of 15-24 year olds who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) rose by 6,000 to 82,000 during those two years. The NEET rate for men rose 2.3 percentage points to 11.6% in the March quarter, the biggest increase since these records began in 2004.

Think about that for a moment. New Zealand created 120,000 new jobs in the last two years and the economy grew solidly, but the number of unemployed and underemployed actually rose 30,600 to more than three times the number of jobs created. How did that happen? Essentially New Zealand imported a net 123,900 people to do those jobs.

We now have a situation where over a third of million New Zealanders want a job or more work, but employers are calling for even more relaxed migration rules to bring in people from overseas to do a mountain of construction, aged care, engineering and hospitality work that is building up in an economy growing at a rate between 3 and 4%.

Why can't we connect New Zealanders with all this work? Why can't they be trained or incentivised or moved or encouraged to do that work? On the face of it, it seems like some sort of giant market failure, and there's certainly plenty who argue that higher wages for certain unpopular and difficult and remote jobs could fix that supply-demand mismatch. Employers might not like it, but that's a market in action.

But there's something more going on here that hints at a multi-decade societal failure. A generation seems not to have the work skills, aptitude and life skills to work for the wages employers are able to pay. Our education, social welfare, justice and child care systems have failed to help these families and kids to help themselves.

The frustration was evident in Finance Minister Bill English's comments last month when he told a group of farmers in Feilding that young Kiwi mean were "pretty damned hopeless" when it came to looking for and keeping a job.

"I referred to the common response from New Zealand employers that many of the people on our Ministry of Social Development list will not show up to the jobs they are offered and will not stay in the jobs that they are offered," English told Parliament in defence of his comments.

English was quick to point out the Government had not written off these young people and was investing hundreds of millions in education, training and individual supervision for sole parents under the age of 20.

But the policies and practices of a couple of generations are clearly not working, and it's the biggest problem at the heart of our economy and society: how do we connect all our people with all the mountain of jobs that need to be filled at a decent wage?

Simply opening up the doors for more migrants is not the answer in the long run. Just ask the first home buyers and renters of Auckland who are saw the median house price rose NZ$82,000 in the 61 days of March and April and are seeing rents rising four times faster than inflation.

A version of this article was also published in the Herald on Sunday. It is here with permission.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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One of the first things to determine is how many of these jobs are real, and how many are vehicles for immigration fraud.

Also, many jobs are advertised just to go through the formalities, where they have already lined up some internal person for the job. Sometimes this means a more junior is then required, sometimes not.
So the numbers of job ads need not necessarily mean that these are actual real jobs which are available.

Let's face it there are no jobs, well not in America. Read more

But, “when Wall Street sneezes, the rest of the world catches pneumonia” Read more


We definitely need more qualified supermarket shelf stackers. I have notice quite an increase in damaged items on the shelves at my local. I have to search for undamaged tins as I wont buy a dinged one. Sometimes I go shopping late at night when they are stacking and have to dodge the boxes of goods being hurled down the aisles by what are presumably over-qualified immigrants having to endure a job they have no love for.

Yep, and bags with holes in them eg icing sugar where the box cutter has been wielded with relish.


I am disgusted by the number of unemployed in our community. Just last week I was reading about a man in his 50's with double degree standing right next to a main road putting up a sign saying "I need a job". My heart sunk when I saw this. Why have we come to this? Why can't we employ people in their 40's, 50's and 60's??

Personally I also know people who have both bachelor and master degrees who are unable to get jobs, who are now on either unemployment benefits or getting supported by their partners. Most of these people are in their 30's and 40's who are hardworking, smart and willing. A few have developed depression as a result, and are facing potential long-term unemployment due to possible mental illness. Some have managed to get into physical or data entry type low-pay jobs just to survive - they are highly under-employed with their degrees and work experience!!

Help is urgently needed from the government.


'Help is urgently needed from the government'????

Governments have been the problem for decades, and have created the present set of predicaments.

Why do you think the present one would be of any help? It's their 'job' to make everything worse, which is exactly what they are doing.

Government has not created the predicaments, they have simply allowed it to happen through inaction.

Ageism is alive and well despite the law. About 13 years ago i completed an IT degree while in my mid 40s. I finished in the top third of my class. I also came from an engineering background having trained as an aircraft engineer in the RNZAF and having significant team leadership experience. I couldn't get a job for love nor money. I was applying for jobs all over the country, and averaging over 600 a year. In the interviews I got, it quickly became clear that the potential employers were looking for younger people. But i also got knocked back many times for being over qualified. after 6 years I finally got a job working for a Govt department, that was not interested in my back ground or qualifications, but those have proven to be highly useful where I work although i am not paid for them. There are a variety of ceilings in this area based on gender (I'm male) ethnicity (I'm European) and age. Plus there is a ceiling that seems to say if you're not already a manager, then you're clearly not fit to be one. Funny though that my role requires that i advise managers on how to do their job. So I'm in the enviable position of providing work for my boss, which she gets the credit for while I'm virtually invisible, advising and coaching others who are being paid up to twice what I'm getting on how to do their job, or occasionally doing it for them so that the area I am responsible for is seen to be performing, while they get the credit for it.

Mobility seems to be a requirement for getting ahead, but having become settled in the regions, even if offered over $100K, the major centres would make me worse off than now.

If you are talking about Auckland ... there is a direct relationship between where you live and where you can find a job that pays enough to make it economically worthwhile making the journey each day

Someone living in Laingholm Southwest of Titirangi would have to think long and hard about taking a job in East Tamaki

While employers can "possibly" make a case for importing a skilled migrant, very soon those same employers are going to have to provide suitable packages including a company vehicle and company supplied (subsidised) accommodation close to the job. So, if they are (eventually) forced to do it for migrants, they should offer the equivalent to the locals

That's the looming unforseen consequence of government caving in to the employment lobbyists

Potential young skilled migrants just starting out on their career without deep-pockets will demand a salary package that covers all their costs, and will unlikely be willing to spend 4 hours per day sitting in traffic

An unemployed supermarket shelf-filler living in Pukekohe is unlikely to seek a job in New Lynn and even more unlikely they could afford to re-locate to put themselves in a position to seek that job


For those essential but low-paid jobs like cleaning, even bus fare to get there can be a prohibitive expense.

That's right.
But doesn't a lot of this come back to the crazy housing situation?
These 'low wages' wouldn't look so bad if rents and house prices were 20% lower.
If we lowered immigration, then there would be less suppressive effect on wages and less inflationary pressures on housing.
But therein lies the problem - Key's key constituents are employers, and property owners/investors!!!

Cost of living generally.

No way house prices will go down 20% - that's daylight robbery!

One reason that companies prefer migrants is this new hobby horse: "Diversity of workforce".
So all things being equal, companies actually now favour migrants over the equivalent NZer!


Definition of Diversity for an employers , cheap worker that I can exploit and will not speak up

Corporations really have embraced the diversity mantra.

Another form of diversity is employing taxi drivers with PhD in Medicine. I have seen a few...beat that.

Although I'd rather have my appendix removed by a locally trained surgeon than a taxi driver TBH.

That problem has been around for ages - people with degrees that are not recognised by other country's - especially in medicine.

Better to be safe than sorry with many professions. Many of these people should be helping their own people in their own lands rather than driving taxis here.

if you are a skilled doctor or engineer why would you drive a taxi rather than go somewhere you can use your skills.
the other one is why are we letting skilled professionals in without a job so that they end up driving taxis for a living

It highlights how compelling it is to emigrate to the Western countries. Better to be a taxi driver in Auckland than administering to your own people in Pakistan or somewhere. Could this modern immorality of taking everything you can for yourself be connected to this phenomena? Not only do we steal our children's future but we steal the literal future of children in foreign lands by allowing their skilled people to come over here and drive taxis. Their wealthy come too and buy our houses.
Globalism and open borders has a sick side to it, especially in a world of inequality.

We also pinch and employ ,the best Docs from India , Pakistan etc when morally they should be working in the countries that trained them and desperately need them; we definitely don't have the moral high ground here.
Not all are taxi drivers here, that's for sure; our health system benefits from these top guys.


We are importing unemployment

Statistics reported by MBIE two months ago

Of the migrants arriving here on skilled visas or resident visas, 30% are unemployed by the time they have been here 3 years


' a multi-decade societal failure'

To allow the economy to become dominated by tourism was idiotic. To actually promote that state of affairs was criminal. To continue to promote tourism -as is still the case- is criminal, omnicidal and suicidal. Tourism is one of the most unproductive, wasteful, and unsustainable activities ever invented, and is doomed to collapse in the fairly near future because it is totally dependent on access to rapidly depleting fossil fuels and converting them into extremely damaging waste gases.

The highest temperatures ever recorded across Asia have resulted in crop failures and a large number of deaths, and that large regions of Canada (normally still half frozen at this time of the year) are now on fire as a consequence of destabilisation of the Jet Stream and general overheating of the planet that are a direct consequence of highly elevated atmospheric CO2.

Meanwhile, Arctic ice cover is the lowest ever and melting fast, threating premature destabilisation of the Greenland ice sheets (and the ensuing rapid global rise in sea level)..

And it's not even summer in the Northern Hemisphere yet.

In addition to the planetary meltdown predicament there is the matter of the peaking of conventional oil extraction over 2005 to 2008

the ever-declining EROEI of fossil fuels, and the impending decline of global supply.

The plan -implemented by practically ideologically-driven government on Earth, including that of NZ- is to make the various predicaments rapidly worse, and to make no preparations whatsoever for the inevitable consequences of that insanity.

Pity the next generation.

Long-term thinking is not a human strong point.

"Pity the next generation." It could well be the last generation. Given the type of people we elect and the incentives they operate under, yielding total failure to lead and act to preserve the life that sustains us, perhaps humanity is a failed experiment in the evolution of intelligence. The result being smart idiots.

We are at the threshold of the Great Filter. The reason why the Universe appears to be dead. Intelligent life never gets beyond it.

I'm part of the 'next generation' and do not want your pity! In fact, I pity the boomers who are building a track record of self centered foolishness. So it is they we should feel sorry for. I don't know how they sleep well at night - must be hard keeping up the act of having everything under control when in reality you couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery based on recent evidence. You'll talk a big game though. But this is just an observation from a poor, hard-working, renting, GEN XY who hopes to one day own a home and start a family....Given the fact I don't own multiple properties and don't have a large amount of debt, I don't fit the mold of a successful NZ'er so my opinions perhaps don't count for much..

Spare the pity and go take a look in the mirror...

Independent_Observer - What does not being self-centered look like? What is your vision for a not self-centered future? What are you doing currently to bring this to fruition? Serious questions.

ZS - I appreciate your concern to understand my point of view. I shouldn't need to explain 'what does not being self-centered look like?' If our society was functioning properly you should see it and be apart of it every day.

Investors should not be out-bidding young families looking to buy their first home to raise their kids. That is morally and ethically wrong. I could afford to do that in the regions but I won't. Why would I want to take a home from a local who needs it for their security, financial future and well being? But people at present can only see the dollar signs. They appear blind to the damage that their greed is doing to the less fortunate. There is generally a lack of empathy for others and the situation they find themselves in.

They're good questions about what I'm doing to change it. Well I honestly don't know what to do right now when their general greed and self interest is filtering down from the very top of our society including the Goverment, Councils and for me as GenXY, the voting majority that is my parents generation.

If you have any ideas please let me know. In the mean time I've read a lot of books on financial markets, property and human behaviour, and my tentative conclusion is that this madness will in time resolve itself, regardless of whether anyone in a position of power and responsibility attempts to change the plight we're in through sound policy or change in governance. It's about the people of society and their behaviours. Right now we have rampant greed. History tells me that this will be followed by a period of significant fear. The tide will turn, and maybe the bubble will pop. But either way people will wake up to the fact that trying to beat others through greed doesn't work. We're all in this together so we either work together, look after one another, or we do what we are doing now and all suffer through what is this very painful slow motion train wreck.

Independent_Observer - I have a few ideas. I see the problem as not necessarily the greed of the boomers but the betrayal by the boomers and the generation before them, especially perhaps the boomers parents, of our heritage and replacing it with consumerism and hyper individuality. Boomers have basically sold the birthright of later generations but it was the generation before them that made this inevitable.
They were driven by naivety and manipuation but their intentions were good. But you know what they say, "the road to hell.....

A couple of things that I have noticed. In the recent past I was completing a computing course at a polytech, The course was an introductory course in Linux. Of the 20 or so people in the class only about 6 or 7 by the end of the course had a good understanding of the material we were presented. The rest varied yet I am sure they all past.

Secondly where I work ( and I work in ICT) - a majority of the people I work with do not understand how to investigate the problems that are reported. I frequently end up reworking tickets that have not been logged correctly. This generally is not their fault - to a certain degree it is a lack of training and knowledge but mostly it's a lack of experience and working in an environment where it is impossible to understand the entire "ecosystem" - it just is too complex. It may also be a lack of certain skills that necessary for this type of job - inquisitiveness and problem solving skills. But one thing else I have noticed is the attitude of the staff. The attitude of the staff can make or break a company - skills can be taught it is very difficult to change a persons attitude,

Perhaps we are concentrating on the wrong thing.

Yes definitely communication problems - like using " past " when you meant " passed ".

Nothing but nothing is more important in any discipline than the ability to communicate.

I also work in IT, and there are a lot of new migrants working in the industry and this is driving the salaries down. I'm not earning much more now than I did in the late 90's, but the cost of living in NZ has increased massively in that time, not to mention the house prices, resulting in a lower disposable income. Also, a lot of these recent migrants have quite poor English language skills (especially written) and struggle to communicate, or work effectively in team environments. On the plus side they do tend to be nice enough people and work hard.

Your comment comes across as arrogant - just because someone uses the wrong word doesn't mean they lack the ability to communicate - it just means they used the wrong word.

I'll phrase it this way - what is more important the method or the result.

We now have a situation where over a third of million New Zealanders want a job or more work, but employers are calling for even more relaxed migration rules to bring in people from overseas to do a mountain of construction, aged care, engineering and hospitality work that is building up in an economy growing at a rate between 3 and 4%.

But there is a failure of funding expansion for growth in the domestic manufacturing sector to meet this demand.

It is a worry how dependent banks have become on mortgage lending. Back in 1984 when we began liberalising the economy, their total assets were a mere $6.5 billion, of which 13.6 per cent were housing mortgages.

Today mortgages account for 51.9 per cent of their $407 b of assets. Add in their agricultural loans accounting for 15 per cent of their assets and the two most stressed sectors in the economy account for two-thirds of their assets.

Meanwhile banks' loans to manufacturers have shrivelled to 2.8 per cent of their assets from 24.5 per cent. Read more

Ratcheting up the price of non-productive land values that constitute collateral for banks' mortgage assets is not a solution or an investment for the future wellbeing of a nation.

Housing costs are pulling capital away from productive investments. In doing so it's pushing up prices and drawing in even more capital. Housing is in a positive feedback loop that's draining useful investment, but that's what happens when housing is a national obsession.

Ié worked for for over 41 years,however i have been unemployed/able for the last 18 months.No dole from the Govt as my wife earns to much(their opinion) and i have too much money in the bank.
Not really looking for a job but the few that i have applied for want me to sit by the phone and wait for when somebody is sick or whatever.
Forget it .Might be a bad attitude however i have decided i'm not waiting by the phone for a call giving me a few hours notice,when i have a life to live.

good luck,
that's wants wrong with this set up, if you have nothing on paper they will help, if you have a house and a little bit of savings built up over many years in your name and paid tax its hard luck

Here's a thought / question for you all....
Property owners generally benefit financially from high immigration - in terms of inflationary pressure on rents/house prices.
But, I don't think anyone can reasonably argue that there are not a whole lot of disbenefits in Auckland - the awful congestion etc etc.
How many owners see the benefits still exceeding the costs?

I think we are past that point with rates increasing by twice the inflation rate each year to pay for infrastructure .
the time lost now getting from a to b
trying to find a carpark anywhere and the costs
unless you are a housing investors the benefits and lifestyle changes are becoming more negative

I agree.
Surely the politics of reducing immigration is a safe bet?

[quote]:- lifestyle changes are becoming more negative

You are surely being euphemistic

Through the eyes of our Wellington based Parnell mandarin that is called "success"


The whole immigrant thing is full of short term thinking at so many levels. For employers it is just a lazy easy way out of addressing staff education, development, loyalty (both ways) and increasing productivity. Ie not doing more with less and less skilled people. The country in general has to pick up the tab for the Kiwis who employers who don't want to make any effort to employ, plus the cost of the capital assets required to support all these immigrants. It boils down to yet more welfare for business. If they faced the true costs of the path they are promoting then they may think differently. This adds up to inefficiency as a nation which filters through the economy to be expressed as a cost in everything we produce and try to sell on the world market.
If we cut out the option of cheap immigrants, the clever and creative companies would find ways of developing staff skills and increasing productivity. Naturally wage rates would rise and we would all be better off. Those who cannot cut it, will have to learn pretty dam quickly or fail; and so they should; we should not be propping them up and perpetuating a low wage, low productivity economy.

We need a Trump here and soon.

Imagine the jobs created by building a wall around the entire coast of New Zealand.

As we already have something better than a wall, a vast moat, we can skip that bit and move to stage two.

Will a cycle track do ?

May be building more educational institutions for medicine will do ?
NZ has to upgrade its education providers to offer more meaningful classy programmes and do away with language schools and sham courses, which only attract migrants ready to work for small wages ?

Great comment.

Answer to B H headline; because that's how many don't really want to work, it's that simple


Evidence for that statement?

The stats themselves are the evidence. Want a job? Get skilled up, diversify, accept a lower pay than what "you" think you are worth. Lots of options.

Leave the country if you are really skilled - qualified Kiwis find themselves here without your toxic workhouse formula.

Your train of thought is one of the reasons why NZ companies are bringing overseas workers. They don't have that self-entitled I should be CEO straight out of school attitude. They have that "can do" mentality that Kiwi's overseas were once famous for.

I have worked all round the world, across all sorts of industries and roles. When I need money I take whatever job I can get. So it pays minimum wage/the hours suck/the work is menial - boohoo, look at it as an opportunity to get your foot in the door and prove yourself.

IMO any job is better than no job. New Zealand employment conditions are pretty good compared to a lot of other places I have been, so you are hardly being forced into slavery here. As I said in my previous post if you want a job there are plenty of options.

If you don't want to work then by all means don't - just don't whine you can't find a job, or that the world is out to get you, or that it is a toxic workhouse formula designed to oppress and control the masses.

There are plenty of jobs in software development. PLENTY.
There's not a week when I don't get a recruitment's call desperate to fulfill some openings with generally good salaries between 80k and 110k
I often wonder whar kiwis are doing. Why no more young people study degrees in demand like structure engineering, computer sciences, civil engineering, nursing, medicine.
Then I have a look at the education system in NZ and I understand it: a bit better

An overpriced education system with often low quality and that has become the back door for immigration. Purely export business.
My advice to young kiwis: go study overseas or start demanding quality tertiary education publicly subsidized in degrees with high demand in key areas for NZs future economy. And study meaningful things!

A little bit of shared responsibility in my opinion.

Everyone wants to be a programmer, have an MBA, be a doctor or a CEO but only a few are capable of achieving it. It's a culture thing. This is NZ, not Germany. The people are different.

Mostly IQ not cultural.

Are you implying that New Zealanders are thick....

I find it unlikely that one society is brighter than another.
But the range of work is changing, depending on the industrialisation of the society.
The labouring jobs can diminish, leaving one group able but unemployed.
I believe we need to fund those jobs to ensure they can participate in society.
In Spain they sweep streets every morning, it is immaculate.

I don't think we are the sharpest pencils in the box. There are exceptions of course, but lets face it.

We as a nation, have the ability to change things.
- We let housing get un-affordable.
- We let serious crime go virtually unpunished.
- We let H&S rules go beyond a nanny state to a full blown mental ward.
- We let companies get away with being dodgy.
- We encourage more traffic, less public transport

All of this can be changed with public will, after all we pick the government.

The biggest one I have noticed is we have no foresight. I work in Taranaki and everyday hear about the stupidity of the think big projects, Half of Taranaki are still employed (Directly and indirectly) by these "think big" projects that are now 50 odd years old. Without them, Taranaki would be dead.

Yet we continually fail to build stuff now for the future. Transmission Gully should have been built decades ago. Auckland should have had some form of comprehensive subway system, SH1 should be Dual carriage and as direct as possible between Akld and Wgtn. High speed rail should link major cities (including across cook straight).

London to Ediburgh = 660km (approx) this can be done in 4 hours by train and about 6-6.5 hours by car.
Auckland to Wellington = 650km (approx) and takes 8-9 hours by train and 7.5-8 hours by car.

Imgaine the millions of $/litres in fuel that could have/would been saved, then there is the time savings.

Of course there will be a lot of people coming up with reasons why this should not be done, but that is exactly my point. We ignore all future benefits and get hung up on one negative now.

As an aside, try this little psychology experiment sometime. Ask 20 random people whether they think they are Smart, Average, or Stupid. Statistically most people should be average. But based on the times I have done it I can almost guarantee most people will say smart.

People always think they are smarter than they really are - those who say they know nothing are the ones who are the smartest of all - they realise the limit of their knowledge - it's called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The way we are governed and the way we allow ourselves to be governed you could be forgiven for thinking we are. I however, prefer to believe that we are just hopelessly naive.

Its the unanswered question.
Who are we?
This forum may work it out one day.

Germanys unemployment is around 6% we may be doing better than them.
1% of NZ workforce may be unsuitable for retraining and need to be picked up in the morning for a work would be worthwhile for our society.

Go back into your cave. I believe NZ left manpower schemes back in the 20s-30s, the era of the first great depression. Read more

I believe they were still running them in disguise up until the Lange goverment. And the dream days of Roger Douglas.

They were called PEP and they were a waste of time and money.
the people on them did not want to be there and damaged tools etc so they never had to work.

For the record, Germany oays you 1850 euros a month to be unemployed, Mum Dad and 2 kids is all it takes.

I think New Zealand is represented very well for programmers and tech people. Just many are also smart enough to see their prospects are better leaving the country.

Very true

The problem is that 80k - 110k is pretty much a survival salary in Auckland these days. You have much wider choice of interesting work overseas with much higher remuneration.

That said youth are also not blind to the society they now live in. Hard study is rewarded with student debt. Good salaries are now just meaningless tokens to be siphoned off by rent seeking landlords and banks.

The sure road to success is simply to sit on your fat neoliberal ass and speculate on property using someone else's money and farm the people who work for a living. Why bother with the hard way.

Because working is good for the mind and the soul rather than just sitting on your fat neoliberal ass and speculate on property. That is also the reason why so many people are doing charity/volunteering type work. It is not the hard way, it is the healthy way.

Globalisation. NZ has had it real good compared to parts of Asia. Govt supplied house, money, healthcare, education etc. supposed to be just for those that really need it but it's clearly more than that now and there as some that make this a way of life. In Asia there is a lot of no work equals no food, no medical, no roof. We need more people that WANT to work hard. Look at dairy, and how many imports they use, just to get someone who is reliable, works hard, and is not stoned. Go to India and wider Asia and really see how the other half really live, and why they all desperately want to get to somewhere like NZ and work damn hard to achieve that. Compared to that work ethic and drive a lot of Kiwis and more or less unemployable.

It's not just the workers way of life that under pressure. Globalisation also puts pressure on business to do more with less to compete with those who leveraging a much lower paid global work force, or compete against free stuff trying to get market share and scale. A good example is FnP, manufacturing moving offshore and now owned by China. Another is Sky TV which is only hanging in there on the back of sports watchers, and if Netflix or similar gets a NZRFU delivery contract, Sky will be dog tucker very quickly. Another example is the decline of yellow pages vs Google. Theresa was smart to sell it off, the buyer, not so much.These type of changes have happened fast and will continue to do so.

Globalisation is also diverting the tax take overseas so is all in all a double whammy. Business and jobs destroyed, and tax relocated to a tax friendly location outside NZ. Not good.

What to do? It easy to see why real estate speculation and land lording is popular. A roof over your head can't be globalised. Might be why a lot of immigrants buy dairy so, you can't download fresh food yet.

Those that are unemployed may have to take more self responsibility (that can't be allowed to happen in NZ can it?) and make something happen for themselves rather than complain about employers not having soft fluffy pillows for them to pick and choose from. Does unfortunately drive a culture of everyone for themselves though, which is more in line with global culture, and clearly seen in debt ponzi realestate speculators of late.

Personally I'd like to see government doing more to protect the average NZ citizen who actually pay tax in NZ. Selling everything off to those who pay all their tax overseas, or structure to pay nothing, is a road to nowhere very quickly.

"A roof over your head can't be globalised."
Wanna bet??
Live long enough and you'll see everything

Could the foreign ownership of rental properties be seen as the 'globalisation of a roof over your head'?

Once upon a time, New Zealand had full employment. With full employment New Zealand also had a host of constraints on New Zealanders economic and social activity.

I am curious as to how many would want those constraints reintroduced.

Once upon a time, New Zealand had full employment. With full employment New Zealand also had a host of constraints on New Zealanders economic and social activity.

I am curious as to how many would want those constraints reintroduced.

Once apon a a time we had New Zealand Railways who soaked up labour at the request of the minister.
Do I think that was there was some sense of participation in the society for the unfortunate.
I support work schemes and full employment
Using the lives of our people as an economic tool is a disgrace

We dont have to bring such constraints back, to get un-employemnt down, just cut incoming drastically.

I dont think its that easy Steven.
The comments by MP English that NZ dont want to work seems to avoid the issue that many are not suitable for the jobs on offer.
I believe we need to rebalance the demand by funding work that is suitable for their skills, not pretending they can upskill.
It would be work schemes..

Some jobs do require a certain mind set - years ago I read an article where a software company was using people in the autistic spectrum for coding - it suited the way they thought - they had a manger who dealt with the people side of things (essentially shielding them from people) as they were very good at finding bugs in software - not so good at dealing with people. People need jobs that satisfy the way they think - mindset - call it what you will. If you concentrated on that when dealing with young people I think you would get a better fit instead of a square peg in a round hole.

We've lost a lot of breadth and depth in the jobs available, so there's this widening gulf between minimum wage part-time stuff and professional jobs. And a society can only support so many professionals. Everybody trains as computer programmers and dentists and lawyers, and all you get is a lot of unemployed people with a hell of a lot of student debt. Labouring is pretty much gone, agriculture is increasingly automated, manufacturing has gone overseas, behind-counter things like retail and bank teller numbers have been reduced. And the people whose jobs that have disappeared aren't necessarily going to be able to move on to the ones that have expanded. Somebody in his 50s who's been stabbing sheep in a freezing works for years is unlikely to be hired as a barista or nail technician any time soon.

Henry Filth I am curious as to how many would want those constraints reintroduced.

It is a curious question. What would it look like? A curious mix of socialism and nationalism perhaps?

What would it look like? Think of the 1950s and 60s.

Firstly, think of the mix of retail shops along (say) Lambton Quay. How many butchers shops were there? Why were they on Lambton Quay - prime retail real estate - when there were already lots of butchers shops in the suburbs? Because the suburban butchers shops were closed by the time you got off the bus in your suburb. Expand that across retail. Is the picture starting to emerge?

Secondly, think of what all those employed people did. Generally, they made stuff. Why don't they make that stuff any more? Because we now import most of that stuff . So there's an import-substitution-driven manufacturing sector with a captive market. Guess what that means for retail pricing, and what it means for product quality. Can you see the outlines yet?

Thirdly, think of the stuff that's still imported. It's still restricted - licensed. Have a think about the potential for corruption and price-gouging once you start down that path. Talk to a few people, collect an anecdote or two, and you'll begin to see it was a fairly well-trodden path. Are the outlines filling in yet?

Fourthly, with the import substitution framework come capital controls. Forget Amazon, iTunes, all those things. You have NZ dollars, in New Zealand. And if you wanted a car, well it was so much easier if you had "overseas funds", wasn't it. Is it coming together now?

Fifthly, you did things like go to the neighbours and play cards of an evening. You probably belonged to one or two clubs in your neighbourhood, tennis, rugby, swimming, surf, model railway, RSA, whatever. Is the picture unfolding?

And lastly, you didn't have a burglar alarm at home. You didn't pay installation or monitoring fees. In most of the country, you could go out and leave your back door unlocked. After all, most of the potential burglars were at work in one of those manufacturing jobs, churning out those shoddy, protected products. Can you see it now?

Most retail closed most of the time, high employment, with people making mediocre goods, and much greater social cohesion - you could almost get away with calling it that thing what Jim Bolger said, d'ya reckon?

So what's your view

I recognise that world as a wellington boy.
One of our neighbours owned a new 58 holden station wagon as a manager In GM Petone
i dont think that is connected to full employment.
But even so it was a properous time, hell, we owned a new house, a telephone and a refrigerator....and a stereo radiogram...

There's a great picture of that vanished world in the movie 'The Apartment', from the early 1960s. Whole thing set in an insurance office in New York, and a building with 30,000 people doing things that don't exist any more. The elevator operator, typists taking dictation, vast rooms full of clerks with adding machines who have probably been replaced by a spreadsheet.

It was indeed a prosperous time, but only in comparison to what went before. You gave up the intangibles for your iThing, didn't you.

And you didn't lose the corrupt, ticket clipping mentality on the journey.

Not sure what you are saying but nothing much has changed except we no longer take responsibility for ensuring our people are usefully employed.
We have mad neoliberal theories instead.

off than our society of 1958, but we are aware of a more corrupt world.
The internet bought that.

Only dreams are free. What price would you pay for your world?

The payback for caring for others is a a more caring society.


But a little more attention to the question would be appreciated.

Henry Filth - Yes it would look like something few current New Zealanders would find acceptable and with the current demographic makeup and general popular attitude it would not be recommended. To be worthwhile such a society would need some binding ethos or shared vision and requires a longer history or common myth like Japan or Iceland. NZ is colonial still and has swapped the British Empire for the new global empire and colonists are still arriving. But Kiwis see themselves as global citizens so generally they are okay with this. Unfortunately being a former British colony of largely European extraction its main centres are top spots in the Empire and so house prices will be sky high.
There really is very little that can be done about it. If you cannot afford to live in a certain area the only choice is to move.

Oh Zac is firmly entrenched as an offender of the Tragedy of the Commons. Take before someone else does, screw others before you get screwed, which also extends to a lack of ability to trust another human being.

The reality is lost on a lot here that sometimes you have to give in order to receive.


A timely BH article, these are troubling trends in the labour force. Economic growth via a transient imported workforce is not quality growth. We seem unable to properly train and upskill our own. 20 yrs ago employment was NZ's number one public concern and a major economic policy issue. Seems to be slipping out of sight and the media seem to allow it to happen as HLFS results barely feature in the main news.

Well we could adopt a similar policy as the UK on immigration, to ensure that only 'quality migrants' are brought in and retained. This would allow young Kiwi's to gain commercial experience in the workforce and allow them to progress on their career paths.

It's quite a simple mechanism, an immigration regulation that ensure that new (Non-EU) immigrants have to earn a minimum salary of £35,000 that equivalent to around $74,000 NZD a year for five years or else they face deportation.

This basically stops employers from importing cheap labour.

That catagory is here now but two other cartagories are skills shortages reported by employers and residency promoted by study in New Zealsnd.
There are a lot of leaks.

Or else Zac is a realist who understands we are a tiny export dependent cork bobbing in a neoliberal ocean current that we have no ability to control. Adapt to the world economic realities and changing social attitudes, or accept the crippling trade off costs of attempting to maintain time warp NZ.

Before i make up my mind could you give me a list of the economic and social realities we misunderstand?
Just joking.

Blah - was relishing an opportunity to jump on my soapbox before you whipped it away with your just joking line !
Pleased you had a stereo and fridge in late 50's 'prosperous' Wellington. Few people in our working class street, did. I don't share the nostalgia view which claims life was on balance better back then. My childhood context was a dull, narrow, racist, sexist and philosophically conformist society. That's also revisionist of course but I'd still much rather be growing up in 2016 than the 1950's, even if that meant the bachelor was my prime viewing or I believed there was actually news on at 6pm.

You will be pleased to hear after Wellington we moved to a South Island city and it fittted your description in detail during the 60,s
Life is tough.
I see little difference in effect between my upbringing and my childrens..contrary to popular opinion.

Don't know your particular circumstances but I'd be a bit surprised if the effect of your kids upbringing wasn't quite different. Even if only in terms of social attitude outcomes.
I observe with pleasure the tolerant philosophies and open mindedness of my kids and grandkids, in contrast to much of the ill informed bigotry that defined my views, at that age.

Society was pretty narrow in those days, reds under the bed and jobs for life, with an early death.
There are more choices now.

Your memory is better than mine, I had fogotten that period, it was terrible.
Back to the drawing board


So my daughter has been out of school for the past 2 years. She has been applying for jobs through out the town and we recently done a CV Drop too. She only had 2 interviews and she never heard back from either of them. She has registered with the local recruitment agency and Winz. She is quite willing and able to work for minimum wage but nobody has given her a chance. So I call BS on this we do not need more immigrants we need employers to give school leavers a chance!

Has she considered a trade?
Joinery is a nice trade probably available at the local polytechnic.


PWS is right. Get her into a trade. Welding is a good trade, CNC programming, anything to do with design if she is interested. Forget the low paying job start, Send her somewhere she can get some real work & life skills even if it's the army.

Ive seen contract cnc joiners on $70 per hour while javascript is worth, permanent staff, $23

Yeah, I started out in joinery and then went into design via that route so I get what you're saying:-)

M - sounds like she has the right attitudes. Keep banging away at it. I've employed lots of young people over a long career in business and it is sometimes only a subtle difference in the applicants attitude that gets them the nod over others when everything else is equal. A recommendation from an existing employee will often mean you interview someone whose CV you might otherwise have passed over, so work any connections shamelessly.
The drop in younger persons employment participation rates is worrying and if lower skilled immigration is proved to be the driver of this, the entry bar must be raised.
I agree with the comments on trades - I have detailed insight into one trade and am astounded at the money currently being made and the rates you need to pay to get good tradies.

I was part of the student accomodation scene for a while and imagine joinery could be quite a good trade...not too macho.

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