One of Australasia's biggest recruitment firms is urging the next government to set up a taskforce to take a proper look at how best to attract and keep skilled workers in New Zealand.
A record 49,000 people left permanently for Australia in the year to October, according to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand.
Manpower Group Australia New Zealand managing director Lincoln Crawley wants a taskforce to be set up with representatives from the industry, immigration and education sectors.
He says it would be more productive for politicians to stop using the exodus to point the finger, and draw up a plan that focuses on training and retaining workers.
Mr Crawley says the latest figures are significant but not cause for panic.
He says the rebuild in Christchurch will draw more people back to New Zealand from the middle of next year.