Australia to maintain record immigration levels.
The Australian Federal Government is set to maintain record high immigration levels, although some groups express concern about the impact on young job seekers and urban congestion.
The Rudd Government says it wants to bring in up to 230,000 migrants annually over the next 40 years, according to a new Immigration Department report on skilled arrivals.
This is about the same number as last year’s record intake, even though it was chopped by 18,000 places because of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). The government issues paper, Select Skills: Principles for a New Migration Occupations in Demand List states that Australia needs to maintain an annual migration intake of between 150,000 and 230,000 people, partly to deal with the ageing of Australia’s workforce.
“Within the framework, it will be important that those skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy, but also have a high level of education, language and skills,” it said.
Monash University demographer Dr Bob Birrell says the latest data showed that young Australians were losing jobs as migrants streamed in.
“The real brunt of the fall in jobs is being felt by young people,” he said.
“Yet the Federal Government is barrelling on with its big migration numbers.”
Dr Birrell said Australia could deal with its ageing workforce problem through better training and smarter work practices.
A major poll taken after the latest federal election revealed growing concern about high migration, with more than 40 per cent of Victorians wanting it cut.
This was way above the 27 per cent who wanted a reduction during a 2004 survey. It is believed that rising concern about jobs, urban congestion and water shortages is driving negative attitudes towards migration.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans said this week that recent changes to skilled migration rules were helping to fill critical skill gaps.
“A properly targeted migration program will ensure we have the right-sized and appropriately skilled labour force,” he said.
Numbers of skilled workers wanting to re-locate to Australia are still increasing, with many of them finding the migration program easier and more effective in matching them up with Australian employers, often taking advantage of the 457 visa, which allows employers to sponsor selected skilled people on strict terms.
Figures released by the office of the Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Evans, show that the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants rose by 60 per cent.
Mr Evans says that this is positive proof that recent changes, such as the introduction of the Critical Skills List, is having a significant impact.
The Critical Skills List (CSL) was introduced in January and was set up to specifically target the shortages experienced in some parts of Australia, in skilled occupations. Those applicants whose profession was on the CSL list would see their visa application fast-tracked along with those who were able to get employer or state sponsorship.
Mr Evans said: “Australia’s migration program is better targeting the needs of Australian employers who are still experiencing skill shortages…The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic conditions while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages such as healthcare and engineering.”
The occupations that saw the most successful applicants were accountancy, computing professionals and nurses. Britain had the highest number of skilled workers applying, with 23,178 successful applicants in 2008/9, closely followed by India (20,105) and China (13,927).
The figures show that there has been a decrease in numbers of people immigrating to Australia from the UK, but that has changed this year with 30,590 people migrating in 2008/9, up from 28,029 in 2007/8.
Further changes to the migration program are also expected later this month, allowing athletes who have migrated to Australia, to represent the country at sporting events such as the Olympics.
Previously it has been difficult for athletes to meet the strict citizen requirements because of their travelling commitments, but Mr Evans states: “Elite athletes who have the potential to represent Australia at an international level but need to be citizens to do so have been disadvantaged along with some specialist professionals including international airline pilots and offshore oil rig workers. These changes will create a smoother path to citizenship for elite athletes and people in specialist professions and enable Australia to benefit from the talents and skills they bring to our country.”
Skilled migrants would benefit by exploring Australia’s skilled migration now, before the big rush to move to a country whose future looks even better than its past gets even more congested.
If you want to move to Australia, or think you might in the future, consult an online Australian visa advisor, and see how in demand your trade or profession is, by checking out the priority lists, and accessing an assessment.
Also, it might be advisable to select a reputable, proven and successful Australian visa advisory specialist and start researching that lucky country’s opportunities in the very near future.
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