Importance of labour mobility
Regional labour mobility benefits both New Zealand and the Pacific region. Through temporary employment in New Zealand, Pacific workers can learn new skills and earn higher incomes. These earnings support families and communities back home – paying school fees, investing in community projects, building houses and starting businesses in Pacific Island countries.
New Zealand businesses can supplement their seasonal labour needs with a reliable workforce in industries where there are not enough local workers. This has supported the expansion of our horticulture and viticulture industries, which in turn, has also created more job opportunities for New Zealanders.
COVID-19 travel restrictions have impacted on regional labour mobility. Once travel restrictions are lifted, labour mobility can play a role in helping PACER-Plus countries recover from the economic impact of the pandemic.
The success of New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme demonstrates the potential of Pacific labour mobility. In 2018/19, 11,168 Pacific workers came to New Zealand under the RSE. Pacific seasonal workers in New Zealand remit over NZ$41million in remittances a year.
Read Ken's story about ni-Vanuatu man, Ken Natuman, one of the success stories of the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme.
Watch a video about The RSE Scheme's importance to the Pacific by Horticulture NZ.
The RSE Scheme's importance to the Pacific RSE Story HortNZ
Labour Mobility Arrangement
The Labour Mobility Arrangement complements and expands New Zealand’s existing initiatives. Key elements of the arrangement include:
- enhancing existing labour mobility schemes and exploring new opportunities
- supporting institutions that manage labour mobility
- promoting and improving current visa categories
- tertiary vocational education and training
- improving recognition of qualifications and registration of occupations
The arrangement also establishes the Pacific Labour Mobility Annual Meeting (PLMAM), which serves as a forum to discuss regional labour mobility priorities.
New Zealand’s labour mobility schemes
Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme
New Zealand has committed to enhancing the operation of the RSE scheme, which is focused on the horticulture and viticulture industries. This includes:
- improving worker selection and recruitment processes
- enhancing pre-departure and re-integration programmes
- improving training opportunities while in New Zealand
- working to improve pension scheme and health insurance arrangements.
Watch a video on An Immigration Success Story - the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme
An Immigration Success Story - the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme
New Zealand has developed two initiatives which reflects commitments in the Labour Mobility Arrangement to explore new labour mobility opportunities. Participation in these initiatives is prioritised for PACER Plus countries.
- The Pacific Trades Partnership offers trained Pacific carpenters and hammer-hands the opportunity to work in New Zealand’s construction industry. 56 Samoan and Tongan participants have participated in the partnership to date.
- The Pacific Fisheries Initiative has facilitated connections between New Zealand’s offshore fisheries fleet and 30 workers from Kiribati and Tuvalu.
A key feature of these initiatives is skills recognition and enhancement. Work is also underway to support a regional approach to the recognition of Pacific qualifications, which is being led by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. This is intended to support labour mobility opportunities across the region, particularly for skilled and semi-skilled workers.