Researchers at Lincoln University say rural New Zealand may face competition for its migrant workforce over the next decade.
Employment relations senior lecturer Rupert Tipples is leading research which aims to provide an insight into the communities of migrant labour in Southland.
There are about 1500 migrant dairy workers in New Zealand, mostly from the Philippines.
Dr Tipples says initial meetings with farmers and farm workers have shown that many migrant workers intend to stay here and advance, not just through the different grades of employement, but also into contract milking, sharemilking and even farm ownership at some stage .
He says that's important, because as the baby-boomer generation retires in OECD countries, migrant workers will be needed to fill the gaps.
Dr Tipples says there is going to be a huge gap between the large number of people retiring in OECD countries and the much smaller number of people available to replace them.
He says that means good work prospects for those prepared to migrate, but also that there will be considerable competition among countries that want to recruit them.
Dr Tipples plans to release a detailed report on migrant dairy labour in a year.