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Workforce 2020


New Zealand is connected to the international marketplace through trade and people, and is exposed to the benefits and costs of globalisation.

Globalisation affects the New Zealand labour market by changing the demand and supply of jobs across international boundaries, creating both employment opportunities and risks depending on sectors and regions.

The Workforce 2020 programme involves using existing knowledge and literature to understand the effects of globalisation on the New Zealand labour market.

New report on the Trans Tasman labour market


Workforce 2020 has produced a new report “Working across the ditch”, that will improve our understanding about the skills and employment outcomes of New Zealand migrants who work in Australia. The findings are designed to promote discussion and to contribute to a longer-term evidence base about the mix and movement of skills between New Zealand and Australia.

The trans-Tasman labour market is an important example of globalisation and has a strong influence on the quality and supply of skilled people in New Zealand.

Australia is a popular destination for New Zealanders for a range of reasons. These include factors such as higher relative wages and the ability of labour to move freely between both markets. In the last ten years over half of all New Zealanders leaving on a long-term basis went to Australia, and by 2006 389,000 New Zealanders were living across the Tasman.


The report found that New Zealand born people living in Australia have on average a similar level of education to those in New Zealand. However, they were less well qualified (on average) compared to the Australian workforce.

New Zealanders were more likely to be working in medium-to-lower skilled jobs such as trades, technical and machinery workers, or labourers. In addition, they were under-represented in professional occupations as well as fast growing service related occupations in sales and retailing. A contributing factor is the higher income gap between New Zealand and Australia in some lower skilled jobs, such as machinery and plant operators.

Many New Zealanders return home after a spell in Australia. New Zealand and Australian Census results showed that between 2001 and 2006 about four workers returned to New Zealand for every 10 going to Australia.

Working across the ditch: New Zealanders working in Australia HTML | [PDF, 70 pages]

For more information on globalisation and labour markets, check these websites: