Kiwi bosses' attitude repels expats

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012

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Kiwi expats keen to return to New Zealand to further their careers and boost the local economy say they are being discouraged by employers' conservative and "inwardly focused" attitudes.

This consensus of opinion about a dire senior management employment situation in New Zealand, despite a stated skills shortage, has emerged from a lively discussion on the expat organisation, KEA Network's LinkedIn page.

Bank of New Zealand economist Tony Alexander formalised the key points of the discussion in a paper which aimed to provoke suggestions for a solution.

Alexander said the anecdotal comments, many from expats who had returned to New Zealand in the past decade, aligned with the Global Career Link annual survey of expats as well as his own analysis.

Despite 26 per cent of all migrants to New Zealand being returning Kiwi citizens, plus a strong interest from expats in returning home, the discussion shows they can be seen as over-qualified, demanding, and without requisite New Zealand experience.

"The points raised by expats in the KEA group discussion include that New Zealand businesses are conservative, inwardly focused, fearful of change, and wary of out-performers from a number of sources," said Alexander.

"In summary we are fearful of failure, don't like sacrificing control in our businesses, don't think the rest of the world has anything to offer us because we think the rest of the world is like us [Kiwi-centric], distrust book-learning and experts, and we work for leisure not wealth."

Expats involved in the discussion said they had been advised to "trim down" their CVs and play down their skills to avoid scaring off prospective bosses.

Recruiters and employers chimed into the conversation, saying expats needed to be able to "fit back into the New Zealand way of doings things", including having realistic expectations about jobs, salaries and employment knockbacks in a relatively small economy.

KEA chief executive Sue Watson said the discussion showed the ability of social media to air issues.

She said employers and recruiters had begun to contribute to the discussion in a way that would be valuable to expats considering a move back home.

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