14 April 2005
Australia adjusts migration program to fill labour shortages
The Australian Government today announced significant changes to its immigration strategy including the addition of 20,000 places in the Skill Stream of the country’s 2005-2006 Migration Program.
The increase in places targets employer sponsored migration, state/region sponsored migration, working holiday visas and migrants who have an occupation on an expanded and more responsive Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL). Significantly, an extra 10 points will now be allocated for State/Region sponsorship under the Skilled Independent Regional (SIR) visa to address the demands for more skilled migrants by many States and Regions.
‘The 10 point increase will have a significant impact on the number of British workers who now qualify to emigrate to Australia. Of the changes announced, this will have the greatest impact for Brits looking to move Down Under,’ said Oonagh Baerveldt spokesperson for the Australian Visa Bureau.
‘The changes reflect the Government's strongly held view regarding the benefits of well managed immigration arrangements,’ said the Minister for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), Senator Amanda Vanstone.
‘A primary aim will be to increase the number of skilled migrants entering under the employer sponsored categories, as it is employers who are best placed to identify the skilled migrants we need,’ said the Minister.
‘Australia’s points-style system of immigration has proven to be extremely successful in filling labour gaps in the economy. Of course now it’s being touted by politicians as a potential model for Britain,’ said Oonagh Baerveldt spokesperson for the Australian Visa Bureau.
‘The points system is effective but not always straightforward. Anyone who is interested in emigrating to Australia should visit the Australian Visa Bureau web site at and complete the online assessment to see if they meet the basic legislative requirements,’ said Ms Baerveldt.
‘Earlier in the week we spoke about the potential for Longbridge skilled workers who have been made redundant to apply under Australia’s skilled migration scheme. But the skills shortage is not merely confined to the automotive sector; Australia is looking for skilled migrants across the board, from trades people to engineers to nurses to accountants.’
Senator Vanstone said, ‘As we are competing globally for skilled workers, it is essential that Australian employers have a competitive edge in this area. The increase reflects the continued growth in the Australian Migration Program’s Skill Stream, which has risen from 34,600 in 1997-98 to around 97,500 for 2005-2006.’
‘The other significant change here is to the Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) visas scheme. Those who do a minimum amount of seasonal harvest work in regional Australia will be allowed to apply for a second Working Holiday Maker visa,’ said Ms Baerveldt. ‘The WHM visa used to be a once in a life time opportunity, now Brits between the ages of 18-30 are a getting a second chance.’
More than 95,750 visas were issued under the WHM program last year, of which 35,061 were to UK nationals. Under the arrangement, young Britons aged between 18 and 30 can apply for working holiday visas for up to 12 months. Work undertaken must be incidental to the main purpose of holidaying and, employment for more than three months with any one employer is not allowed.
The program boosts tourism to Australia and benefits industries that rely heavily on casual labour at peak times, especially the hospitality, horticultural and rural industries.
Other changes to make Australia’s skilled migration arrangements include:
• More trades and engineering related occupations will be added to the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL,) which provides priority processing and additional points for the general skilled migration points test. The MODL will be reviewed every six months to reflect better emerging labour shortages and further improve targeting.
• Working Holiday Makers and Occupational Trainee visa holders will be allowed to obtain a SIR visa without having to leave Australia, just as overseas students can already.
• A pilot program will be introduced to allow overseas students to undertake traditional trade apprenticeships in regional Australia on a full fee paying basis, and on completion of these, to apply for migration under one of the regional migration visas.