11 March 2005

Australia skilled job vacancies growing says recruitment agency

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The Australian Government may have no choice but to attract migrants from advanced industrialised countries to help fill the nation's growing number of skilled job vacancies, an international recruitment firm says.

The Australian managing director of the recruitment company Manpower, Varina Nissen, said the firm is focusing on workers from industrialised countries to take up unfilled skilled jobs in Australia, rather than from developing economies such as China and India. The recruitment agency is seeking sheet-metal workers and welders from South Korea, mining engineers from Canada and South Africa, nurses from Ireland and electricity workers from France and Britain. Over the next three to five years, said Nissen, China will start to contribute more skilled workers to the global market. At this point China is not a big contributor because over 50 percent of its workforce is agriculture-based.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's head of international relations, Brent Davis, said because other advanced economies have similar skills shortages to Australia's, the Government's immigration effort would have to be more aggressive. He added he thinks the age cap of 45 for skilled migrants was too low and should be lifted.

The chamber has also linked skill shortages with tax reform, arguing that a cut to the top marginal tax rate is required to help attract some of the one million Australians living overseas, many of whom ate highly skilled workers, back home. The New Zealand Government recently launched an information campaign to attract ex-pat New Zealander back home.

The Australian Minister for Immigration, Amanda Vanstone, acknowledged earlier this week that Australia would be competing with other countries, including neighbour New Zealand, for skilled workers. Qualified trades people are "at a premium", Senator Vanstone said.

The Australian Department of Immigration lists all trades, chartered accountants, medical professionals, welders and hairdressers as some of the skills to be filled.

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