Don’t give up on taking your skills to Australia!
Yes, certainly, owing to the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), skilled migration numbers will be slashed in Australia’s budget year of 2009/2010. The government says this measure has been taken make sure that Australian workers get preference for jobs in a period that threatens higher unemployment. Paradoxically, recent figures indicate that Aussie unemployment has actually diminished. Still, most gurus are still predicting up to 8% unemployment during the next twelve months.
While the Australian government has already trimmed the number of skilled workers to be granted visas into Australia next financial year there are still 115,000 of those visas up for grabs.
For the time being, occupations in the tourism, clerical and agricultural industries have been removed from the 457 visa program. Furthermore, a higher level of ability in English language have been set. This measure has been taken to make sure that the 457 program provides most-needed skilled workers that Australia, who readily can be integrated into workplaces.
Included among the critics of the government’s skilled immigration cuts is the Australian Technology Network (ATN). has spoken out against the government’s decision to cut skilled immigrant numbers. The ATN believes that academics emigrating to Australia is essential to the nation’s economic recovery. The ATN says that allowing the Australian skilled visa program to remain open will enable more skilled academics to come to Australia and that this is a more effective boost to economic recovery than cutting skilled visas by 14%.
The ATN warns that restricting immigration during a recession is a fraught with negatives because when the economy recovers Australia will find itself facing an exacerbated shortfall in skilled workers.
Around this time, the “baby boomer” academics will start to retire, creating a big blip in the workforce that will work against economic growth reaching its full potential.
Vicki Thomson, executive director of the ATN, wrote in a briefing paper: “There is generally a two-year time lag from immigration policy change to outcome, so as a response to the global financial crisis, this policy will do little to protect the jobs of Australian citizens in the short to medium term.”
The same reasoning could apply to many of the visa categories chopped in this budget.
But let’s look at the future. While no one can put a definite expiry date on the GFC, it isn’t going to last forever. In fact, some people think the end is not so far away. In any event, for Australia, it is as close as for anybody, if you accept the development of Chinese domestic markets as a signpost to recovery. Raw materials are raw materials whoever you’re selling your finished products to, even though the profit margins might be slimmer.
As producer and purveyor of in demand raw materials, Australia is in a favourable position to be at the sharp end of the recovery. At that time, the government is likely to discover it again needs many of the skilled workers recently deleted from its plans. Thus, those skilled folk who have already launched into investigating Australia will be at a distinct advantage. So it may well be highly advisable to keep a close watch in such changes of policy and even to establish a relationship with a proven, reputable immigration advisory company to give oneself a head-start in any new race for Australian skilled visas.
Another indicator of the Australia’s needs and its implicit future opportunities are contained in the 2009/2010 federal budget which contains what many commentators have dubbed an infrastructure splurge. This colourful epithet springs from the fact that this budget will pour more money into infrastructure projects than any budget since the Second World War. The $22 billion infrastructure spend, described by federal Treasurer Wayne Swan as the centrepiece of the budget, includes social investments in education and hospitals, $3.5 billion for clean energy and a $4.7 billion initial investment in a $43billion national broadband network.
The budget identifies funding for 15 infrastructure projects of national importance, 10 of which were outlined in a shortlist of projects compiled by Rod Eddington’s Infrastructure Australia advisory body. The $22 billion nation building program covers roads, rail and ports, education, health and hospitals and aims to create 15 000 jobs.
If you work in building and construction, you’d be more than interested in these plans. Once they get up and running … and they are staged to come on line over a number of years … it seems highly likely that Australia will quickly revert to being short of just the categories of skilled trades people they so recently lopped of the ‘we need you’ list.
The property sector is a big budget winner. The first home owners grant boost will be extended for another six months, but at a reduced rate after three months. New tax incentives will also encourage the construction of rental properties, more than 800 new homes will be built for military personnel and their families, and more than $6 billion will go towards repairing 45,000 run-down housing commission homes and building 20 000 new ones.
Small business also came out of the budget a big winner, with an existing tax break increased to 50 per cent. The government said it was in recognition that small businesses represent 95 per cent of all business and employed 50 per cent of the private sector. This would be of particular interest to self-starting entrepreneurs who see themselves as employers, rather than employees. Australia depends to a high degree on small business and this is reflected in the opportunities for proven operators with appropriate levels of financial backing to apply for and obtain business visas that can lead to permanent residency and, for those who so choose, the commitment to Australian citizenship and the putting down of new roots in a new land.
To give you an idea of the scale, scope and location of the infrastructure projects to be financed .. and therefore the potential opportunities for skilled immigrants in a wide range of occupations … here is a sample list of projects:
• Regional Rail Express (Vic) $3.2bn
• East-West Rail Tunnel (Vic) $40m
• Gold Coast light rail (Qld) $365m
• Gawler rail line modernisation (SA) $294m
• Noarlunga to Seaford rail (SA) $291m
• Northbridge rail link (the Hub) (WA) $236m
• West Metro Sydney (NSW) $91m
• O-Bahn track extension (SA)$61m
• Hunter Expressway (NSW) $1.5bn
• Ipswich Motorway (Qld)$884m
• Kempsey Bypass (NSW)$618m
• Bruce Highway —Cooroy to Curra (Qld)$488m
• Oakajee Port (WA)$339m
• Port of Darwin expansion (NT)$50m
In support of his program, Mr Swan said the Government’s fiscal package started with a boost to household incomes, was followed by support for “shovel-ready” infrastructure, and had now moved into larger and longer-term nation-building projects.
“Through these investments we can tell our kids and grand-kids with pride that, to respond to the great economic challenges of our time, we created the infrastructure, generated the ideas, shaped the minds, marshalled the energy, and developed the skills that led to a new era of prosperity and sustainability for Australia,” he said.
Mr Swan said investment in critical infrastructure projects would support an estimated 15,000 jobs a year, peaking at 18,000 in 2011-12. In addition, the national broadband network would directly support up to 25,000 jobs a year.
So, are you reviewing your situation, considering a move to a country and economic climate more conducive to advancing your own ambitions and establishing a better life for your family? An examination of the Australian budget suggests it might be advantageous to find yourself a proven visa specialist and start researching Australian opportunities both current, and for the not too distant future.
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