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Skilled Asian migrants giving the West cold shoulder

NZ herald - July 18, 2011. "More professional and skilled Asians are giving New Zealand, Australia and other Western nations a wide berth, choosing instead to migrate to other Asian cities, a study has found."


The study, Change of Migration Patterns in Asia: Towards Regional Economic Integration, said Hong Kong had the highest number of migrants in East Asia with 2.74 million, followed by Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

About 5.3 million migrated internally in 2008 and more Chinese workers are also leaving the country to work with support from the Chinese Government, the study noted.

"The rapid economic development in East Asia has contributed to the growth of labour markets across Asia," said Dr Sakkarin Niyomsilpa of the Institute of Population and Social Research at Mahidol University in Bangkok.

"Asian professionals, who had aimed for labour markets in Western countries, have instead begun to emigrate in large numbers to East Asia due to the prosperity in these Asian economies."

Dr Sakkarin said movements within Asia had also been made easier, with many countries relaxing immigration laws and allowing more flexibility in the labour market.

The competition for skilled migrants was likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

Massey University sociologist Paul Spoonley said the annual net migration gain for New Zealand over the past 20 years was 12,000. But in the 12 months to May 31, the net gain was 4600, down from 18,000 the previous year.

New migrants add $1.9 billion a year to the economy, according to Immigration New Zealand.

"New Zealand has to work very hard if we want to continue attracting new skilled migrants," Professor Spoonley said.

"Yes, we can take our marketing to Europe and the US, but the large talent pools are still in Asia, which we cannot just simply ignore.

"The things that we can offer are lifestyle, an English education and a New Zealand passport, so there are real advantages for New Zealand and we've got to stress those advantages."



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