15 Mar 2012

Trust says better employment of migrants will boost GDP

8:27 am on 15 March 2012

An Auckland group helping skilled migrants into high-value jobs is making a bid for multi-million dollar funding which it believes can lift the economy.

The non-profit OMEGA organisation is backed by major corporate sponsors.

Over four years it has found professional positions for more than 400 migrants facing language and other hurdles in the job market.

OMEGA is seeking $2 million from Auckland Council over three years to help big employers become better equipped to take on board skilled migrants.

Chief executive Justin Treagus says part of their goal is to make New Zealand more attractive in terms of global competition for skilled migrants.

He says there is also a group of people already in New Zealand but working in jobs that are well below the skills they possess.

Mr Treagus says it's necessary to look at how to move those people into jobs that are more relevant for their skills, thus freeing up their existing jobs for others.

He says research from the Royal Bank of Canada shows that the opportunity for removing the barriers of immigrant talent to the labour market is 2.1% of GDP.

Mr Treagus says OMEGA needs to look at how to develop capacity in organisations to allow them to take ownership of this issue.

He says OMEGA is already working with Auckland Council, and is preparing a new funding bid which will be decided over coming months.