New immigration settings positive for Christchurch businesses

24 August 2018

Christchurch businesses have greater opportunity to harness international student talent and propel their companies onto the global stage, thanks to recent changes to immigration settings.

Earlier this month, the government announced several changes to immigration settings for international students, effectively channelling higher-skilled talent to the regions.

ChristchurchNZ programme manager of international education Bree Loverich says this is good news for Christchurch, where migrant workers are essential solutions to our region’s growing skills shortage.

“These new immigration settings attract international students studying at higher level degrees by offering them more post-study work rights for a high level of qualification,” Bree says.

“This provides students with a pathway to residence who have the skills that our businesses need.”

New immigration settings incentivise international student talent to study and take up skilled employment outside of Auckland and into the regions, where it’s most needed.

Christchurch faces a skills shortage of 73,000 by 2031 and needs to attract and retain talented people in the face of global competition to drive economic growth and remain competitive.

“Cities must compete for capable people which is far easier when that global talent already has a connection to the city, community and friends via education,” Bree says.

“Rather than recruit migrants via immigration skilled labour initiatives, international education develops a global talent pool of students whom are trained in New Zealand, in English, and are Kiwi culturally aware.”

Talent attraction is key for supporting businesses to commercialise innovation made possible by leveraging the connections, cultural insights and talent of international people.

Canterbury businesses already have a reputation of being innovative and for turning investment into new things, but there is room for improvement in translating this into economic outcomes.

In many cases, successfully bringing a product to market is inhibited by lack of diversity in the workplace and understanding international market nuance. Some export businesses have had great success with commercialising because of the expertise brought to their business from the global talent pool available right here in Canterbury.

Lincoln Agritech is one great example of a local business that was propelled onto the international stage after opening their doors to a Chinese intern via ChristchurchNZ’s Job Ready Programme.

During his internship, the student, James Wang, leveraged his international experience and language skills to develop Lincoln Agritech’s Chinese distribution plan and is now a fulltime employee with the company.

Lincoln Agritech CEO Peter Barrowclough says he quickly recognised the value James’ international experience could offer their organisation.

“James’ international agricultural experience and lingual skills made him a pivotal part of our company’s overseas expansion,” says Peter.

Lincoln Agritech is one of many Christchurch companies engaged with the Job Ready Programme, developed to support international students’ pathways to employment and help small to medium enterprises realise the potential of the global, yet local, talent pool and gain essential workforce development capability available on their doorsteps.

“This talent pipeline offers the cultural expertise that Canterbury businesses need to scale and commercialise their products and services offshore,” Bree says.