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Could do better: migration and New Zealand’s frontier firms

Skilled migration Labour mobility Business innovation Immigration New Zealand

This report looks at migration and frontier firms, defined as firms that are at the top of the game when it comes to converting resources into products. In particular, the authors assessed the role that any changes in migration policy and outcomes could play in encouraging innovation and technology adoption among frontier and other firms in New Zealand. It also investigates how migration can help frontier firms stay at the top of the class and how immigration settings, more generally, might have been holding firms back. It looks at how changes in migration policy could influence firms in New Zealand to make greater use of technology and innovation relative to imported labour.


  • Keep current provisions for top-end skilled and entrepreneurial migrants, but substantially reduce flows of people with skills that are the same or lower than the average of the local population.
  • Reduce inflows of low-cost imported labour by eliminating generous employment rights for fee-paying students and working to reduce the current number of working holidaymaker visas.
  • Review the Recognised Seasonal Employer scheme with a view to better balancing productivity and humanitarian objectives.
  • Use the skills, experience and connections of the Kiwi diaspora and new migrants to improve the productivity of actual and potential frontier firms and leverage potential growth markets for New Zealand goods and services.
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