Wow, big news for Filipinos and New Zealanders! I can't help feeling John Key reads my blogs given my postings over the last year, as well as comments I've made in the Wanganui Chronicle. Well, perhaps a little arrogant to think I'm the only one with a brain in NZ. Anyway, let me put your mind at ease....I'm not currently in NZ.
1. For NZ, it is a possible precursor to a more relaxed program to employ Filipinos
2. For Filipinos, it’s a possible precursor to other developing nations adopting a similar scheme. Now, if I was a Filipino, I would be looking for a similar scheme from Japan in the next few years because they will want to place downward pressure on wages, and they will want to address an aging population, so they will want more carers. Japanese people will also love to stay in Cebu and learn English, though they might snub the working opportunity, unless they are able to work in an upmarket Japanese restaurant for a Japanese clientele.
Back to the current topics of this conversation – the Philippines and NZ. Its easy to get excited about this scheme, however it is highly restrictive or limiting in many respects. Consider that:
1. Employability in NZ is not a gateway to permanent residency, however it might be a gateway to a sexy girl for NZ men, prostitution, employment scams,
2. It’s not an invitation to do business in the Philippines for young NZ’ers who could plausibly market Filipino skills in Australia & NZ in particular.
If we were being cynical, we might ask, who does this scheme really benefit? Well, aside from the promise of more, particularly for Filipinos, we might say:
1. It gives NZ farmers access to cheap and plentiful supplies of labour on their bee, dairy, and various other farm enterprises…places where NZ’ers don’t want to work.
2. It does not preclude Filipinos seeking a working visa after the 1year working holiday visa; but this is only likely I suspect if you have good skills training…in which case, you might be better applying straight away for that.
3. It’s a scheme to encourage Filipinos to spend money in NZ; and the ‘key money’ to enter the country will be priced to keep out the poor, i.e. You need $US6,000. So this is a scheme for astute prostitutes or Filipinos with family already in a Western country.
My problem with this scheme is that it does not go far enough. Both these countries have an unemployment problem; a problem which largely results from govt interference and a wage price disequilibrium. A skilled Filipino gets $NZ850 compared to $NZ3000 per month. So you’d at least expect these countries to be trying to:
1. Encourage NZ businesses to be investing in Philippine farming
2. Filipinos encouraged to get skills and permanently settle in NZ
This would of course facilitate investment in both countries. Instead; both countries are solely interested in ‘consumption’ – whether its Filipinos spending holidays in NZ, or NZ’ers going to the Philippines for surfing holidays I guess. My concern is that 18-30yo New Zealanders going to the Philippines without a care in the world, might be inclined to pick up some sexually transmitted or other infections, and take them back to NZ. They need to be careful about the place in that respect. Teens are not accustomed to thinking about the long term implications of today’s decisions. Suddenly they can afford too much.
There is also the prospect of scamming. The youths are allowed to work, study and stay in the host country for 12 months, but for no more than any 3 months for any given employer. The problem is that there is likely to be scamming in this area. You might expect little work for Kiwis in the Philippines.
The cream of the Filipino working community are going to have a big impact on NZ. Personally, given their education, I think NZ’ers will undervalue the workmanship of these Filipinos. No doubt it will be a wake-up call to NZ. The problem of course is that most of these 3mth jobs will only arise in cafes and temporary work on dairy and bee farms. Hardly a workplace to roadshow the Filipino skills. So why would a skilled Filipino from a wealthy family engage in that? Well, there is still the café jobs. The problem is that no one is spending in NZ. One wonders if this scheme will achieve much since it seems too restrictive. Might Filipinos be better off going to HK or Singapore? No question; but it might suit some looking for som skills and English fluency before they enter these markets. The minimum wage in NZ is $NZ13/hr, or $US10/hr, and it’s a “no tips” culture. There is work in NZ in the cities. I know a Filipino with a great attitude who has 3 jobs to support his wife & 3 kids.
This is hardly a scheme to encourage NZ business investment in the Philippines, though President Aquino has made progress curtailing corruption. One has to question however the appeal of strategies which encourage Filipinos to go abroad; whilst NZ is hardly seeking terms which encourage investment in ‘high growth’ Philippines, i.e. Why not progress to allow foreigners to buy property in the Philippines, to raise local living standards, investment opportunities and create jobs. Instead, the brightest Filipinos are being lured overseas. This means a steady stream of remittances and of course the persistence of old-style political oligarchs.
At the end of the day, NZ needs to build its population since it seems compelled to sabotage growth. Constraining people to just work subsistence-level wages results in little skills development.