New Zealand agricultural visa programme proves a success

An agricultural visa programme which allows foreign workers to work on agricultural projects within New Zealand has been found to have a positive impacton on the whole country. The Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) visa, which grants international workers entry to  the country to work on farms, orchards and vineyards, has been hailed by Immigration Minister Nathan Guy as a success. "The RSE policy was designed to help with seasonal labour shortages in the horticulture and viticulture industries, and this new research shows the scheme is working well," said Mr Guy. The immigration minister said the research, carried out by the Department of Labour, illustrated the RSE's popularity. Mr Guy said the programme ensured overseas workers were paid the same as New Zealanders as well as helping local businesses to thrive. "Research on earnings and return rates found that the majority of new workers will return to work another season in New Zealand, many for the same employer. "RSE workers are paid the same rate as New Zealand workers and have the same protections under law. Data shows that mean gross seasonal earnings are around NZ$12,700 [£6,175] per worker, most of whom spend between three and seven months working New Zealand." The RSE scheme currently attracts as many as 8,000 workers to the country each year to fill gaps in the labour market which local workers cannot fill. Mr Guy said employers can only employ an overseas worker if a New Zealander is unavailable which, in an industry requires as many as 50,000 workers per season, still leaves plenty of room. The RSE scheme allows the country's agricultural industry, one of the most important to New Zealand's economy, to prosper and has proved so successful it has inspired an Australian equivalent. The use of overseas workers is often a controversial subject from those who believe that locals should be prioritised but Mr Guy said he was pleased with the report's findings and that New Zealand immigration officials will continue the scheme cautiously. "These reports are encouraging and the government will continue to monitor the scheme closely," said Mr Guy.

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