Are firms making it too hard for migrants to find work?


This was the key concern raised by a bumper crowd at the ‘Settling into New Zealand’ event aimed at new engineering migrants. So what’s behind these comments, and what can be done to help?

More than 200 people attended the event, held at the University of Auckland, which was all about helping students and qualified engineers originally from overseas feel more at home in New Zealand. It brought together students, academics, engineers and industry to network, collaborate and learn from each other.

The crowd included first-time students, mature students and recent graduates, as well as employers and academics. They heard a diverse, inspiring panel speak about their own experiences, followed by a question-and-answer session where they could voice their issues and seek advice.

“As an immigrant to New Zealand, I wish I had been able to attend an event like this one when making my study and career choices.” – Yaser Shakib, Terra Consultants

A common theme was difficulties finding a job, with a lack of local experience identified as an issue when getting rejected for roles. This is despite many engineers being able to prove competency through work experience gained in their home country.

The panel gave some advice about how to work around this challenge, including:
• Make the most of networking to give more opportunities to form relationships with industry.
• Volunteer for things that can utilise your engineering experience.
• Keep an eye out for any internships that could be useful on your CV.
• Try and find comparable New Zealand situations that match your overseas experience.
• Keep applying and don’t give up!

Another question asked by many in the audience related to how they could better integrate into New Zealand life. The panel stressed the value of taking every chance to get involved in groups like their local Engineering New Zealand branch and relevant technical groups. But, just as important, the panel said, were things like sports clubs, local interest groups and even living with New Zealanders in flatting situations. All of these can help grow local knowledge while building your personal network, especially in New Zealand where “everyone knows someone”, which could help when it comes to job hunting time.

The event was hosted by Julie Raine, Chair of the Auckland Branch of Engineering New Zealand. And the panel featured Associate Professor Ashvin Thambyah from the University of Auckland; Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh from AUT; Joy Chen, the Chair of the Special Interest Group for Immigrant Engineers; Steve Tyson, the General Manager of Regulatory Engineering Auckland Council; and Fiona Gavriel, the Chief Executive of Prendos New Zealand.

Following its success, there is now a similar event scheduled for May in Christchurch, with plans to add further dates in Wellington and Dunedin.

If you’re interested in attending these events, please contact Kavita Kansara —

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