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Housing debate ignores economic benefits of immigration

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2016, by Sheryl Blythen

The current debate about the impact immigration is having on the Auckland housing market ignores the economic benefits a migrant workforce offers the New Zealand economy, says Diversity Works New Zealand Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.   Migrant workers arrive here with a range of knowledge and skills that help us grow a more effective and productive workforce, she says. They also boost the working age population in New Zealand, which is increasingly important as more baby boomers start to leave the workforce or work fewer hours.   Immigrants contribute to the country’s tax revenue and create a new client base for local businesses and service providers, says Cassidy-Mackenzie.   Diversity Works New Zealand, formerly the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, works with New Zealand organisations to help them maximise the benefits of having a diverse and inclusive workplace.   “While we acknowledge that the high net rates of immigration New Zealand is currently experiencing do put pressure on our infrastructure, particularly in Auckland, it’s important that we don’t lose sight of the wider benefits immigration offers,” says Cassidy-Mackenzie.   Distinguished Professor Paul Spoonley, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University, has been a major contributor to research and public debate on the impact of immigration.   He says immigration is now a big factor in population and economic growth, especially at its current historic high levels.   “As New Zealand has moved from the old immigration model, largely focussed on attracting immigrants from the UK, to one that recruits from a global talent pool, it has transformed New Zealand businesses.   “Immigrants help fill skill shortages for employers – but they are much more than a workforce.  They are an important source of population growth, they have made our cities much more diverse and - I would suggest - more interesting places, and they have contributed to the growth of new businesses.”   New Zealand’s current economic success is largely a result of immigration, he says, but we do need to manage the pressure immigration puts on infrastructure and make sure that our employers adjust to the reality of a culturally diverse workforce.   Professor Spoonley will be speaking about the impact immigration is having on the New Zealand labour force and the opportunities and challenges this presents at the inaugural Diversity Summit in Auckland on August 23.   The full-day event at the Sky City Convention Centre has a line-up of high-profile international and local experts who will share the latest information and initiatives creating a more inclusive culture in workplaces around the world. For more information, visit www.diversityworksnz.org.nz   For more information, to arrange an interview or to request a hi-res image of Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie or Paul Spoonley, please contact: Diversity Works Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie bcassidymackenzie@diversityworksnz.org.nz + 64 274 397 458

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