It all started when I was browsing the search engine for this New Zealand Herald article by Lincoln Tan (good on him for writing this) this morning and later, a New Zealand Statistics website where this research paper caught my attention. Then, it lead from one thing to another with this online article to Auckland.Scoop’s article dating from 25 May 2011 also raised a bit (in a small section of the article) about the issue of Asians being the most qualified but (sadly) the most underemployed group in New Zealand. Eventually, it began to dawn on when I started to recall of real-life accounts from fellow acquaintances and friends who have told me time and again of Asian migrants (be they doctors, lawyers, and other professionals) ending up as supermarket employees, bus drivers, taxi drivers or cleaners!
As a blogger, I am here to write on the behalf of all Asian migrants in New Zealand as well as to raise (but NOT to blow something out of proportions) the issue of underemployment among Asians in New Zealand because it is high time it has to be heard rather than swept under the rug and pretend nothing happened. There will be some of you who will agree or disagree with what I wrote but I am as mad and concerned as hell towards this issue. I know there will be some people out there who will say that Asians come to New Zealand to steal away jobs or taint New Zealand culture. Get real, people! We are and each and everyone of us are all migrants, like it or not. Without migrants how can a country survive or grow economically? Let us all face it, globalisation is happening at every waking hour for the past few decades.
Anyway before I end up steering off topic, about the issue of underemployment among Asian migrants (young and old alike), it is just sad when their hopes and dreams of starting anew and contributing to Godzone only to have it all shattered when the New Zealand job market is somewhat still shut to a lot of them. Therefore, it does not make any sense at all. Why should an Asian taxi driver with a medical qualification (let’s say neurology or cardiology) be out driving passengers to their destinations day and night when he is better off saving a life, doing medical research or treating a patient in a hospital somewhere in New Zealand? Or why should an East Asian cleaner with a degree in mathematics from an Asian university have to clean toilets or sweep floors in an Auckland CBD when he should be teaching mathematics or discovering a new mathematical formula at a New Zealand university or a school? Or how about this: why should someone with a law degree have to end up working in a lowly job when she is better off working in a law firm (private or public) or in a New Zealand court? Or how about that: why should an Asian graduate with an arts degree in languages and journalism ends up working as a supermarket employee instead of working in a television station or newspaper company somewhere in New Zealand? Here is something for us all to ponder: why should an Asian migrant with many years of working in research and development overseas and holds a postgraduate qualification ends up working a menial job, let’s say in a fast food joint, with little pay when he is better off doing research and development in a company of his choice/dream in New Zealand? Call me a whatever you like, but this all do not make any sense and those people in these scenarios I mentioned should be in the right jobs based on their qualifications and skills in New Zealand.
As a blogger, I have had enough of hearing or noticing subtle excuses like “not enough Kiwi experience” or “not good enough for that job” shut in their faces from one job interview to another. I may not be an employment expert but doesn’t overseas experience count the most when it comes to choosing the best worker for the right job regardless whether one is a New Zealander or a migrant (or regardless one’s ethnic origin)? To those with those lame excuses about “not enough Kiwi experience”, you just don’t want to blatantly tell it in their faces that you don’t want because they are non-Kiwis. Like it or not, you are denying your fellow Asian migrant counterparts their right to prove themselves to be worthy and good in what they are doing. Just because they are foreigners to you, they are as equally qualified and capable as you are yet you slam the job market door on their faces over and over again. Secondly, you make it look like as if meritoracy is dead in the New Zealand job market. As for those who accuse Asian migrants coming in to steal the jobs, well let’s face it, you are just ignorant to the fact that multiculturalism and diversity are here to stay in New Zealand. And I believe you are being xenophobic and you do not realised that. You can deny all you like but why don’t you have a look what do New York, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore, Toronto, Vancouver, Kuala Lumpur, Paris and London have in common? Those places are all built by the hands, blood, sweat and tears of migrants for the past one or two centuries which is why they are thriving well in this day and age.
Because of such people I mentioned, those poor Asian migrants are given the three choices 1.) work in a menial job in order to stay in New Zealand 2.) head to Australia across the Tasman or other countries to work and live 3.) pack their bags and return to their home lands when the whole Kiwi dream is shattered. Is this right to you? I don’t really think so and I believe something needs to be done in order to tackle this issue. Secondly, there should be more studies to be done to explore the issue of underemployment among qualified Asians in New Zealand. Last but not least, I want to say it out loud and clear, although not many people will hear me out, that Asian migrants are not stereotypically isolated and they have a right to be seen, heard and recognised in and by the New Zealand job market for their skills and qualities. New Zealand, they want to be welcomed and allowed to prove themselves rather than be turned away and be left in a lurch when they are calling New Zealand home and doing everything to fulfil the Kiwi dream.
What says you about the issue of underemployment among qualified and skills Asian migrants in New Zealand? What do you believe needs to be done to tackle this issue? Do you believe that New Zealanders (not all New Zealanders are all that discriminative, mind you. So don’t take my word out of context) need to accept the fact that multicultural, diversity and globalisation are something they cannot deny? Do you believe the New Zealand job market needs to adapt and do better in accepting Asian migrants with qualifications and skills that can truly meet the demand and contribute to New Zealand economy, locally and globally?