New Zealand is now facing an exodus of workers seeking employment abroad after the country relaxed its stringent border restrictions.
New government data show more than 10,600 people have left the country in the past 12 months to May, in what many fear has become a ‘brain drain’ out of the country. The drain is expected to last until new immigrants arrive in the country in 2023.
The departure of workers exacerbates an already tightening labour market in New Zealand. The country is grappling with a talent shortage, with a number of migrant workers still lacking.
Throughout the pandemic, New Zealand had one of the toughest border restrictions as the government tried to keep the COVID-19 pandemic out.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Kiwibank Chief Economist Jarrod Kerr said that he expects annual net migration to be around 20,000 by the end of 2022. This number adds to the wage and inflation pressures as workers seek employment opportunities abroad.
Before the pandemic, New Zealand attracted a net 72,588 in 2019.
Kerr said workers who would have otherwise left over the past two and a half years are going abroad now, and he expects it to continue. Therefore, it would further frustrate the already tightening labour market. He added that, as businesses struggle to find workers, the country loses workers in their prime.
Kerr expects things to improve next year with the arrival of migrants from India, China, and South Africa.