New Zealand may be experiencing economic growth fuelled by both emerging home-grown innovations and FDI that represented 38% of that nation’s GDP in 2016 and totalled NZ$101bn ($72bn) in FDI stock in 2017, but the country is also facing an ongoing skilled workforce shortage.

“Filing these skill gaps is vital to further growing our economy, supporting our booming population and fostering a great business environment,” remarks Greg Forsythe, national manager for marketing, settlement protection and attraction at Immigration New Zealand.  

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Skilled professionals are particularly needed within the engineering and construction sectors for the slate of projects that total NZ$125bn over the next decade. These include large infrastructure developments to rebuild Christchurch following its devastating 2011 earthquake, and several long-term projects in Auckland that include affordable housing, road and rail infrastructure and waterfront facilities needed to host the America’s Cup in 2021.

“Our healthcare industry will need 380 extra specialists every year to meet the OECD average by 2021 and up to 25,000 more nurses by 2030,” he adds.

Coming from America

In response, Immigration New Zealand has unveiled NZ Now, the country’s first dedicated effort to attract specifically American talent in the construction and engineering, healthcare and technology professions. Officials see the US, which has a skilled workforce 64 times the size of New Zealand’s, as an ideal country from which to recruit. Already some 7000 Americans have registered in response to an initiative launched last year to attract software developers to Wellington.

The country is also targeting investors with a unique investor migration programme that helps investors settle into the nation’s lifestyle and connect more rapidly into the local investment community. “The goal of the programme is to attract investors with the capital, networks, and capabilities to support New Zealand’s economic growth, while encouraging investors to become actively involved in their investments so that they also share their business experience, networks, and leadership skills with local enterprises,” Mr Forsythe says.

Two investor visas are available: one for those who plan to invest NZ$3m over four years and one for those who plan to invest NZ$10m over three. A wide range of investments qualify, including angel/seed investment, venture capital, private equity, listed equity, bonds and commercial property or new residential property development. As of April 2018, the programme has attracted NZ$8.5bn in investment funds with more than 50% of that total invested in growth assets.