More older, professional NZers heading on their OEs

New Zealanders heading out on their big OE to the United Kingdom are getting older and more professional.

New figures released today by the British High Commission showed while demand for Working Holidaymaker visas had remained at about 4500 annually, demand for the new Highly Skilled Migrant visas aimed at big income professionals was flourishing.

Commission spokesman Jonathan Kinsella said over the past two years almost a thousand had been issued - compared to just seven in 2002.

"The traditional OE is changing.

"We're seeing more and more people in their 30s, 40s and 50s who are heading off to do their big OE and work in professional industries like finance and IT. It's not just backpackers going over to work in bars these days."

Research also showed that equal numbers of Brits were heading to New Zealand, he said.

"What we're seeing is a 'brain blend' of sorts - a complementary pool of skills and talent, benefiting both countries."

Big OE evenings designed for young people to learn about living and working in the UK were being held in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland next week.

These free events provided information on visas and work permits, as well as job opportunities in everything from childcare to finance, Mr Kinsella said.

"The evenings are always incredibly well-attended as they are the perfect one-stop shop for Kiwis wanting to find out what they need to know to make the most of their Big OE."

- NZPA

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