Measuring the integration and retention of migrant dairy workers in New Zealand: A case study of migrant dairy farm workers in the Canterbury region: A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Lincoln University
The dairy industry is one of the most important sectors of the New Zealand economy. In the year ending March 2016 it accounted for 3.5% of the nation’s GDP ($7.8 billion dollars) and contributed a further $12.2 billion to the economy through related supply industries. Furthermore, dairy is New Zealand’s largest export product, surpassing the meat, wood, and wine sectors by significant margins. Significant structural changes in dairy farming (a shift from traditionally family-run farms to larger, more investor-driven operations), have led to a higher demand for skilled dairy farm workers and subsequently, to recruitment and retention problems. Unable to fill vacancies domestically, farm owners have had to turn to migrant workers to meet their labour demands. This thesis explores the socioeconomic integration and retention of migrant dairy workers in New Zealand, focusing specifically on the Canterbury region which has the highest concentration of foreign-born dairy workers. Migrant dairy workers’ integration into New Zealand society has largely been ignored in academic studies, as have migrants’ own stories. This thesis positions itself within this gap and analyses the degree to which migrant dairy workers (and their families) are integrated. It offers a detailed study of migrant dairy workers’ experiences of working and living here. Migrant dairy workers face various psychosocial difficulties in adjusting to the New Zealand environment; this is often due to the process of obtaining work permits, the long work hours, social isolation, and language and cultural barriers. It is crucial to investigate migrants’ perspectives on working in the dairy industry, not only because they contribute to the national economy, but also because they are often in a disadvantaged position due to their work permit conditions and their limited knowledge about New Zealand employment practices. More specifically, this thesis identifies the factors that are associated with migrant dairy workers’ integration into New Zealand society and their retention on dairy farms, using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The first phase of this thesis uses narrative interviews to investigate the drivers for, and the barriers to, integration and retention, focusing on workers’ experiences of being employed in the New Zealand dairy industry. It also examines employers’ perceptions of working with migrant dairy workers. The second phase of the thesis uses two separate surveys (one for migrant workers and the other for employers of migrant dairy workers) to gather statistical information. This thesis applies exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and binary regression techniques to identify the factors associated with the successful integration of migrant dairy workers into New Zealand and their retention in the dairy industry. In line with the changing nature of New Zealand dairy farms, this thesis argues that employers must develop new skills, particularly those related to staff management. In contrast, it uses hierarchical cluster analysis and One-way ANOVA techniques to analyse employers’ perceptions of the integration and retention of their employees. This thesis concludes with a detailed set of recommendations about the ways in which farmers, local communities and social/government agencies can facilitate greater degrees of integration to ensure that these valuable workers are retained.... [Show full abstract]
Keywordsdairy sector; migrants; migrant dairy workers; dairy farm workers; dairy farm employers; integration; retention; perceptions; case study; cluster analysis; skilled labour migration; New Zealand dairy farming
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