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20 mins
November 22, 2022

Migrants in the construction sector

How an information vacuum contributes to exploitation

In 2021, Immigration New Zealand (INZ) commissioned Business and Economic Research Limited (BERL) to undertake research with migrants working in the construction sector. The research covered two areas:

  • Determining the best channels to communicate with migrant workers 
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of the existing INZ settlement resources, and the current forms of communication used to inform migrant workers and employers of their rights and responsibilities.

Over several months in 2021, we spoke with 22 migrant workers who were Filipino, Chinese, and Malay. We also spoke with four managers at New Zealand-owned construction companies, six worker advocates, two social media stakeholders, and a representative of an Asian business association. Additionally, we held two focus groups with 15 staff members of INZ’s Verification and Compliance branch.

The recommendations were:

  • Provide information in multiple languages – Having settlement and compliance products only in written English creates a real barrier for workers with low written English literacy skills
  • Provide information in different formats – Using formats that are more varied than written information in booklets and on websites can deliver information in contextualised and culturally nuanced ways. This can include spoken, pictorial, and diagrammatic formats
  • Widen the distribution channels and platforms of information, including collaborations with third parties – Third party translators are using Chinese social media and WeChat to communicate with the Chinese community in New Zealand and China, and Facebook to engage with Filipino and Malay communities around the world. Partnering with community organisations, Licensed Immigration Advisors, and worker advocate groups may help to disseminate information on official as well as unofficial networks
  • Take a whole of government approach to the information needs of migrant workers and their employers – Whole of government and industry collaboration is key to a shared understanding of the role of migrant workers in the construction sector.

These reports were released in late September 2022.

Read Construction sector community research - Audience and communication channels
Read Construction sector community research - Effectiveness of resources and messaging