Written By: T. Pascal Brown and David Cooke,
Description: A Newspaper Article: Migrant Success Stories
Instructions: Read the sentences below and answer the questions or fill in the spaces
Within the last year, Kim, a specialist computer programmer from Korea, took an English language course, which led on to a position in his field at a large New Zealand food company . Two years earlier, Imran, an immigrant from Ethiopia, took such a six month course at polytechnic, during which time she picked up a part-time position in the bakery of a local supermarket. She then completed a further six month employment skills English and computing course, got increased hours at the supermarket, and is now training new staff in the bakery.
These stories might seem unexceptional. But they mean a lot to the employees: a livelihood, for instance, self-esteem, application of their skills and experience, and respect in the community. For the employers, such stories usually mean very dedicated workers, a widening of the employers’ experience and outlook, and tangible benefits to the business.
All work involves skills of some kind: knowledge of different tasks and ability to get on with others, to organise one’s time and to keep track of work rosters. Often the migrant has prepared for work in both the home country and here.
Yang with ten years’ experience as an engineer in China, took a masters in engineering in Christchurch, then followed with a course in English for four weeks. His tutor encouraged him to do a job search on the Internet, leading to an application and an interview, supported by a portfolio of his achievements. He’s now managing five concrete sites.
Zhang, a chemistry teacher from China, after taking an English language office course, gained a position as a laboratory assistant in water quality, putting to work both her previous experience and recent training.
Regularly, employees apply the skills and aptitudes from one job to the demands of another.
Faiavale, from Samoa, went to Japan on a church mission at the end of a government funded English language and office skills course. She returned two years later speaking Japanese fluently and then trained on a travel and tourism course. She now works as a travel consultant for an inbound Japanese travel company.
These accounts hint at other benefits that businesses are realising. NZ is part of an increasingly international world. When Muldoon (ex Prime Minster of NZ) said, “our foreign policy is trade,” he was recognising that we are inevitably linked to the rest of the world, both to sell and to buy. It therefore makes sense for us to draw on the skills and expertise of people from different parts of the globe. They bring overseas experience, valuable in itself, but also handy for a company that wants to market in other countries – or that needs to import from different places. Migrants often have networks in other nations, or know how to access them. Migrants also bring languages: not too many Kiwis are fluent in Chinese, for instance, but that resource is already here in the form of well qualified bilinguals or multilinguals, able to switch between English and Chinese, and in many cases, capable of using different forms of Chinese or other Asian languages.
As anyone in business knows, negotiating is an essential part of life, both within and beyond our shores. But having to do it over the phone in a foreign language has its own special anxieties, so being able to draw on a fluent and competent speaker of both English and another language to help the process can be a great
This is the case of Chen from China who at then end of 2001 was appointed to an education consultancy as their Asian administrator. She speaks not just Mandarin Chinese but also Japanese, by virtue of having lived in Japan for six years. Her interview was partly conducted in Japanese.
Twice in 2001, the Minister of Immigration announced increases in immigration targets, presumably to benefit NZ’s economy. Recently, Lianne Dalziel (the present Minster of Immigration) has projected a 10,000 increase annually of applicants in business and technical skills categories, through a new “Talent Visa” policy. The result is that New Zealanders will continue to have greater contact with different cultures inside the country. And because of the nature of global interaction, we’ll have more dealings with cultures outside.
If we really want to thrive in this international world, we could draw on the human potential of the immigrants in our midst. Employing migrants gives businesses a chance to learn directly about other cultures, expanding our understanding of other peoples and enabling us to deal more easily with other parts of the world.
In short, it cuts three ways. Employing migrants gives the newcomers a crack at survival, after the uncertainty and often turmoil of moving to a new country. It can benefit a business by providing the international experience and ability of the migrants concerned. And it contributes quietly yet powerfully to building an aware and tolerant multicultural society, able to play its part responsibly in a diverse and fractious world. NZ could yet be a model of a culturally mature society.