22 November 2007

Leading economist: Australia needs skilled immigration

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Respected American economist Richard Florida has said that Australia should look to creative industries in order to become a regional economic powerhouse and will need to increase the number Australian skilled immigration visas in order to do this

Mr Florida was speaking after he spent a week in Noosa, on Queensland's Sunshine Coast, working with business leaders to discuss how the popular seaside area can decrease its dependence on tourism and broaden its economic base, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

He told the paper Australia was an up-and-coming economy, alongside Canada and Scandinavian countries, and was in a strong position because of its high percentage of workers in the "creative industries".

However, he said that in achieving this immigration was a "key tool", as Australia was an obvious place for highly skilled immigrants.

"What made America great was not Americans - it was the fact that we attracted the best Europeans and Jewish people escaping Nazism ... Middle Eastern people and then of course more recently Indian and Chinese people," Mr Florida said.

"Fifty per cent of our Silicon Valley businesses were founded by a foreign-born person and most likely an Indian or Chinese-born person.

"Now Australia is becoming an immigrant mecca . . . and as the US restricts immigration, that talent wants to flow somewhere ... it's going to flow more and more into Australia."

He concluded that with the help of skilled immigrants, Australia could consolidate its position as an Asian leader in the creative industries.

Australia needs skilled professionals: anyone interested in applying for an Australian visa should complete the Australian Visa Bureau's online Australian visa assessment to see if they qualify for skilled migration to Australia.

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