09 October 2008

Evans: research into Australia's "brain drain" needed

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After the Australian Bureau of Statistics released figures this week showing the Australian emigration has hit record levels, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans told ABC Radio that research needs to be conducted into what attracts the country’s skilled workers permanently offshore.

The figures show that although immigration has also hit record levels and the net migration figure shows a positive 200,000 people, the number of skilled Australians leaving the country permanently has reached 77,000 last financial year.

"You will find Australians working all through Asia, the US, the UK in a professional and trade role, but as I say equally, we're attracting a lot of people as well and I think it's just a reflection of the global economy," he told the radio station.

Senator Evans is not concerned that Australia’s population numbers will be affected as the immigration numbers far outweigh Australian emigration, but that research into the attraction overseas for skilled Australians will be beneficial for the government.  He also feels that businesses can use the research to their advantage by preventing the loss of their talent to overseas companies.

"Like all countries, you have got to fight to hold onto your best and brightest," he said.

"I know a number of major corporations, I know a couple of the accounting firms for instance, have actually started offering their Australian-based employees three years in an overseas office as part of their way of trying to retain them and so it's a very competitive market and good people get job offers."

According to an immigration expert, Australia’s successful immigration is the direct result of key change made in 1999 to the immigration legislation.  Lesleyanne Hawthorne said the speed and efficiency at which the Department of Immigration and Citizenship processes Australian visas makes it one of the best immigration systems in the world.

Ms Hawthorne said successful economic migrants to Australia can be granted Australian skilled visas within three months if they apply offshore, and three weeks if they are already in Australia, reports the Embassy.

In 1999, the Australian government made changes to its immigration legislation so that only those immigrants were admitted who could prove specific English language ability and a certain level of skill.  The requirements for Australian skilled migration are continually being updated and are reflective of the current Australian situation.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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