03 March 2005

Australia to increase immigration through skilled migration

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Australia’s Prime Minister, John Howard, has voiced support for an increase to Australian immigration to counter a shortage of skilled labour and rising labour costs.

The Prime Minister has admitted Australia needs more skilled immigrants and the best way to address future labour shortages is to increase the number of skilled immigrants allowed into the country through Australian skilled visas.

The Prime Minister said he was in favour of adjusting the migration as long as an economic need existed. The comments were made on Australian local radio amid reports the Australian government was considering allowing a significant number of additional skilled migrants into the country over the coming year.

Australian Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone is reportedly considering a plan to increase the quota of skilled immigrants allowed into the country each year by 20,000 to 97,000.

The new places will target skilled migrants such as doctors, hairdressers, mechanics, boilermakers, pharmacists and accountants according to The Australian newspaper.

Of the total migrant intake for 2003-2004, the majority came from Britain, with New Zealand, China, India and South Africa filling out the top five places.

Recently, a series of reports from the private sector have indicated Australia’s ageing population and lack of vocational training will lead the country to a skills shortage over the next five to ten years. A robust economy in recent years has led to record low unemployment in Australia and a constricted labour market. Economists are warning these combined factors are fuelling inflationary pressures and could eventually curb economic growth.

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