10 February 2006

Australia Skills Shortage Continues

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Australia's skill shortage has hit small regional cities like Ballarat hard. The Ballarat Migration Project acting chief executive officer Narelle Hibberd said the city's vacancy rates in building, engineering, automotive and hairdressing were higher than the national rate.

In speaking with an assembled group of business leaders over breakfast this week, Hibbert noted the issue is growing and not going away.

Mrs Hibberd said Ballarat business owners needed to consider attracting skilled migrants to fill vacancies. The Migration Project is trying to educate employers on how to attract skilled migrants.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs regional outreach officer Claire Dunn was also a guest speaker at the breakfast.

Dunn noted it was important business owners realise that skilled migrants only should only fill positions that could not be filled locally.

Ms Dunn outlined the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) to employers attending the forum.

Ms Dunn said the scheme was designed to assist the economic development of regional Australia by encouraging skilled migrants to settle permanently in regional or low-population growth areas.

Mrs Hibberd said a holistic approach to skilled migrants needed to be taken for it to be successful.

"We recognise employers are limited in providing a holistic approach, and this is where the City of Ballarat is leading and supporting the community to ensure successful attraction and retention of migrants, and a positive experience for employers," she said.

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