08 May 2006

More women making their way to Britain from Australia

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According to research by Australian University geographer, Graeme Hugo, the exchange of professionals between Britain and Australia is bucking the simple trend of working holiday makers criss crossing the globe. The movement of people between the two countries is being dominated by professional Australian women looking for career growth and development.

Professor Hugo found there are more than 250,000 Australians in Britain; with about half that number settled in London. And forget the backpackers working in he pubs; more than half of Australians living long-term in Britain are professionals or managers, two-thirds are under 30 and 56 per cent are women.

Although fewer high-powered Brits tend to move to Australia, in the five years to the end of 2004, 252,000 people left Britain to live long-term (a year or more) in Australia, according the British Government.

At the same time, more than 200,000 left Australia to live in Britain. Research show no other country exchanges people with Britain on the scale Australia does.

The figures also show that of those leaving Britain for Australia, two-thirds are British migrants and a third are Australians going home. Similarly, of those moving to or back to Britain, about two-thirds are Australian, a third are British. In actual fact then, the historical migration pattern dominated but Britons moving to Australia for good is finished. In its place is what Hugo calls a circularity of flows involving people moving back and forth, often for relatively short periods.

What’s more, 700,000 British tourists visited Australia last year, nearly twice as many as 10 years earlier and more than any other country except New Zealand.

This free movement of people across and over 'the pond' is due to several factors including the internet, and importantly, low-cost airfares. And of course, economically speaking, both Britain and Australia’s economies have remained robust the last few years. London is a centre of the global economy and it lures financial, IT and media talent from all over the world. Australia’s aggressive skilled migration campaign has been highly effective in luring Brits Down Under; approximately 20,000 have left every year since 2001.

Although Canada has been working hard to attract skilled migrants to its shores, Britons regularly choose Australia’s weather and relaxed lifestyle.

Hugo also found the pattern of those leaving Australia for Britain to be reflective of a new generation of young people who see the labour market as global. Professionally speaking, Australians see Britain as the best choice for advancing their careers.

However, Hugo found that 80% of Australians living in Britain plan to return to Australia.

Excerpted from the Sydney Morning Herald, 6 May 2006.

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