Government set to lure expats   23 Aug 2005

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Immigration Minister Paul Swain said last week the Government is launching new initiatives to bring expatriate New Zealanders up to date with job opportunities at home.

"Expats have the skills employers are crying out for with unemployment at just 3.7 per cent. It makes sense for the Government to help New Zealand employers connect with expats," Clark said.

"New Zealanders have always travelled abroad for new experiences and opportunities, and there are at least 460,000 New Zealanders living overseas. Yet studies show that half of our expatriates think they’ll come home and 25 per cent are still deciding.

"The key factors people consider when thinking about returning home are lifestyle, friends and family, and work and career. These new initiatives aim to provide information relevant to a decision to return home." Clark and Swain said the programme would focus on the following areas:

• Launching a website that has up-to-date information about New Zealand and can connect expats to the employers, recruiters, real estate agents, and other organisations and information they need when deciding to return home. The website will also have a link to the Department of Labour’s CV matching service, networkzonline

• Trialling Department of Labour video conferencing facilities in London to New Zealand employers for interviewing expats.

• Working with the existing range of government and private sector organisations with expat links such as Kiwi Expats Association (KEA), which are creating an expat network around the world and helping them to act as ambassadors for New Zealand.

• Promoting offshore job expos to expats to help them connect with New Zealand employers.

• Providing ways friends and family in New Zealand can connect expats to information about returning.

Clark said Labour’s recently announced student loans policy, which will wipe off interest on student loans for people living in New Zealand, adds another incentive for Kiwis to come home.

In addition, the Department of Labour is looking at ways to help make the process smoother for foreign partners of expats by prioritising their applications for residence.

Clark said the programme will build on the many initiatives already under way by private and government organisations to promote connections with off-shore Kiwis. This includes other measures the Government has introduced that make New Zealand a more attractive place to return to – such as changes to tax policy for returning residents, and the paid parental leave scheme.

Clark said it would not be a one-off programme, as global demographics like aging populations and a shrinking workforce meant New Zealand would continue to compete internationally for skilled labour.

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