there's a new department of labour report out about "the growing reliance on migrant caregivers":
New Zealand’s population is rapidly ageing. It is estimated that in 2031 those 65 and older will represent 35 percent of the population aged 15-64. While part of this increase is due to healthy ageing, nevertheless the number of people requiring some form of care is projected to dramatically increase. It is projected that 48,200 paid caregivers will be needed by 2036 to look after a growing number of older disabled New Zealanders requiring high levels of care and support. It is highly unlikely that the local supply will be sufficient to meet this demand. Therefore immigration of low-skill workers needs to be considered as a part of the measures needed to alleviate the future pressures on the demand for paid caregivers for the elderly. New Zealand does not have a formal scheme for caregiver migration. However there has been a rapid and growing reliance on migrant caregivers for the elderly over the last five years. Globally as the demand for elder care grows, New Zealand may not be able to rely on the current sources of migrant caregivers for the elderly and alternative regions such as Melanesia and non-traditional parts of Asia need to be considered. While temporary migration is one option, programmes that provide pathways to permanent migration also need to be considered.
melanesia and non-traditional parts of asia. in other words women of colour. still doing the work that the rest of the nation doesn't want to dirty their hands with. still doing it for very little pay. the age of servitude is not really over, is it?
after all, the first paragraph of the abstract goes like this:
Caring for the elderly is perceived to be a relatively low skilled, low paid and a low status vocation. This makes it difficult to attract people, especially young people from the local labour force into this vocation. Reflecting the type of work and its status, caring is highly gendered.
it's more than gendered, there is also the issue of race. but page 9 & 10 of the report (pdf file) refers to an OECD report which came out with recommendations to improve the caregiver workforce, only one of which related to migration. they talk about improved pay rates, better training, a career structure, improved safety standards, better use of IT and health promotion.
this particular report has a focus on migration, and the danger is that we will continue to import women who will do this work for low wages, instead of working on the measures outlined in the by the OECD report. after all, it's easier and cheaper. and there is no shortage of people wanting to migrate to this country.
a final point: in all the talk of pay equity, there is little discussion about equity in the wages of women of colour as compared to white women. i'd like to see more information about that, and some thought put into strategies to reduce inequities.
(hat tip: ruth desouza posting to AEN)