Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse say the RSE scheme is an innovative immigration policy that fulfils a labour need in New Zealand while giving Pacific workers the chance to earn an income and gain skills.
“Due to the scheme’s success, the Government has approved $10 million over an initial five-year period to explore what other sectors of the economy - where there is continued high demand for labour - RSE workers are well placed to make a contribution to,” Brownlee said.
“In particular, the Government will be exploring employment opportunities for Pacific women and develop prospects in semi-skilled, higher-income occupations.
“The new funding is in addition to $5 million (US$3.6 million) for the training of Pacific workers in New Zealand and forms a significant component of the recently-signed Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations Plus,” Brownlee said.
Woodhouse says 10 years on, the scheme is still regarded as ground-breaking and among the most effective development policies in the world.
“During its 10 years, the RSE scheme has more than doubled from 5,000 seasonal workers in 2007, to 10,500 in 2017, and has played a key role in supporting industry growth in New Zealand’s horticulture and viticulture sectors,” Woodhouse says.
“It has also played an integral role in supporting economic growth, with RSE workers contributing more than $40 million (US$29.1 million) every year to the Pacific.
“At the heart of the scheme’s success are the strong relationships that have been forged over the last decade with government and industry, and with the highly valued Pacific workers who are welcomed into our communities each year,” Woodhouse said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment partner on the delivery of the RSE scheme.
Photo: Seasonal workers