03 December 2008

Wealthy countries such as Australia urged to maintain immigration levels

An international migration organisation based in Geneva urged wealthy countries to maintain high levels of immigration during these times of economic crisis, reports the Associated Press.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said in a report that wealthy countries would need to continue their recruitment of foreign workers – both highly and lower skilled - to maintain a healthy level of production in their workforces. 

Developed nations such as Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand compete for the limited resource of highly and lower skilled workers, and the IOM report clearly urges countries such as these to maintain this competition, especially during the economic recession. 

"There's always jobs that the host population don't want to do," said IOM spokeswoman Jemini Pandya, who added that health care, domestic care and service industries would continue to demand foreign workers, even during times of financial crisis. 

According to the report, the latest statistics showed Europe was the biggest importer of immigrants, with 70.6 million in 2005, followed by North America (45.1 million) and Asia (25.3 million).

This year, Australia's immigration levels reached record levels.  After concerns that the annual quota for Australian immigration would be cut in response to the global crisis, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans said no decision would be made until the economic data for next year's 2009-10 Budget has been compiled. 

"I'd envisage certainly that the migration program for next year would be smaller than this year," Senator Evans told a Senate hearing in October.  "(But) no decision has been taken on that."

This year, the Rudd government increased the migration quota by 31,000 to reach a record 190,300 visas for Australia, and comprised 133,500 skilled visa migrants. 

Senator Evans also suggested a slowdown of the economy would reduce the numbers of temporary workers in Australia, particularly those in the 457 temporary visa program, as the demand in the economy will reduce.  He added, economic pressures in the household would reduce travel opportunities, which will also affect the numbers of people applying for an Australian working holiday visa.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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