07 July 2008

Immigration Minister urges expansion to skilled migration program

Following a meeting with the Ministerial Council on Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (the Council) on Friday, the Immigration Department has confirmed plans to reinforce its skilled migration program.

The Council was joined by the New Zealand Minister of Immigration, ministerial representatives from most states, the Parliamentary Secretary for Settlement and Multicultural Affairs, and the Australian Local Government Association.

The Council agreed that the skilled migration program is vital to filling the skills shortage in the Australian workforce, and that the permanent and temporary migration program needs to be expanded so that Australia’s economy can continue to thrive. 

Senator Chris Evans took the opportunity at the meeting to encourage states and territories to increase their use of state-sponsored skilled migration to Australia.  "There is the capacity within the Federal Government’s permanent skilled migration program for states and territories to sponsor overseas skilled workers in occupations in demand," he said.

In May, the Government increased the number of skilled migration visas by 31,000, making a total of 133,500 in the 2008-09 migration program. Last financial year, around 7,500 skilled migration visas were state-sponsored applications.  Independent applications comprised more than half the number of skilled migration applications, employer-sponsored migration comprised around 20 per cent, and the total number of migration visas for Australia reached 190,300.  Senator Evans is hoping the increase of state-sponsored migration will allow states and territories to meet the needs of skills shortages in areas of high demand, particularly in regional Australia.

The Council also discussed the Government’s settlement strategy and reviews of the subclass 457 visa, Adult English Migrant Program, the Citizenship Test, and the Living in Harmony Program.  

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau

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

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