Double whammy of staff heading to remote jobs at offshore companies, Kiwis heading on OEs hitting employers - expert

New Zealand businesses are losing Kiwi workers faster than predicted as the resurgence of the overseas experience (OE) hits, an expert says

As borders began to reopen earlier this year, the demand for flights exploded as cooped-up Kiwis finally book their trips.

Beyond Recruitment executive general manager Ben Pearson said Kiwis are heading to the typical OE locations like the United Kingdom and the United States, but it means employers here need to fill the gaps.

"This concept of the resurgence of the big OE is a real thing. We've been talking about it for a while now, unfortunately, we predicted it incorrectly. We thought that the big OE might come on gradually over a couple of years, but Beyond Recruitment clients are telling us it's here," Pearson told Newshub Late.

"There are fairly large numbers of really productive mid-career workers - that are basically the last people on Earth that we want to lose - now going away."

Data released by Stats NZ on Monday showed Aotearoa had an annual net migration loss of 8700 in the year ended April 2022. It also found the number of border crossings in April was the highest since the Government introduced travel restrictions in March 2020, but still far below pre-pandemic figures.

There were 266,700 border crossings in April this year - 125,100 arrivals and 141,600 departures. Provisional data available for May is even higher, with 169,042 arrivals and 175,727 departures.

Alongside Kiwis heading on their OE, there are also offshore companies in the likes of Silicon Valley headhunting New Zealanders who'll allow them to work remotely in Aotearoa. In particular, it's people working in technical and specialist roles with niche skills who are being snapped up.

"They're working on high-scale projects, they're working on interesting technical stuff," Pearson said. "They might get a trip over there three or four times a year to connect with the team. It's a pretty attractive kind of option and we're seeing more and more of that."

But filling roles here hasn't been easy either, and Pearson said it should be easier for overseas workers to get visas in New Zealand.

"There's been a lot of changes there and our clients are telling us that it does seem a bit more confusing, does seem a bit more difficult, people are still getting their head around it," he said.

"But ultimately I think there is a desire to make it ultimately easier for people to come in and obtain work permits or get pathways to residency.

"It just feels like the market's getting their head around it at the moment and it just feels confusing, but we think that might be okay in the long run. It's just new at the moment."

It comes as an independent economist earlier this week warned New Zealand employers that overseas companies will be looking to poach Kiwi workers over the coming year.

Cameron Bagrie told AM Kiwi businesses need to prepare for stiff competition for staff now that borders are open.

"Foreign employers are going to be picking off New Zealand staff. They're going to be picking them off and offering them higher wages," Bagrie said. 

"I mean you jump across the ditch to Australia where your wages are higher and houses are a lot more affordable so that's going to tick an awful lot of boxes." 

Bagrie said thankfully New Zealand isn't seeing a "brain drain" just yet, but he warned the lure of overseas work and holidays will make the next year tough for businesses. 

"We are losing what we call non-New Zealand citizens, they're packing their bags and they're off. 

"The other side of the coin is that New Zealand residents - we normally lose them in a stock standard year. What we are seeing at the moment is a small flow of 200 so the positive side of the ledger is bigger than the outflow. 

"Now the $1 million question is what is that going to look like over the coming six to 12 months because certainly when you talk to employers out there at the moment there are a lot... that are very nervous about what people in their twenties are going to be thinking… and the lure and the attraction of moving overseas."