18 February 2008

Australia looks to boost immigration to meet skills shortage

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Australian immigration is set to increase as the country looks to deal with the shortage of skilled workers, the Age reports. The government has consequently set out new proposals to attract a greater number of skilled workers and is looking to draw in either those on an Australia working holiday or permanent migrants.

Figures from the Bureau of Statistics reveal that 183,400 jobs were left vacant during November, with this figure growing by approximately 15 per cent every year. The recent government led by John Howard increased the number of skilled migrant visas from 24,000 up to 102,500 this financial year. This figure will now rise to 108,500, with this number split between migrants with skills in demand and Australian sponsored visas by employers.

Chris Evans, immigration minister, said: "Skills and labour shortages are a major cause of inflationary pressures in the economy. Employer-sponsored visas are the highest priority because they put a migrant worker directly into a skilled job."

He added that the extension of working holiday programme visas for young people in the construction industry could increase the number of migrant workers in that industry by 5,000. However, Christopher Ellison, the opposition spokesperson on immigration has dismissed the increase in skilled migration visas as a "drop in the ocean" when looking at the bigger picture.

Australia needs skilled workers: anyone interested in migrating to Australia should complete an online assessment to see if they qualify for skilled migration to Australia.

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