23 February 2009

Evans to conduct a review into critical skills list

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The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans is considering a formal review into the critical skills list, reports The Age.

After pressure to reduce the record numbers of people emigrating to Australia in response to the country's economic situation, Senator Evans has indicated that he would consider a formal review into the skills shortage list.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union has already indicated to the Government that it has jobs to be removed from the list, after the mining industry took a tumble during the global slowdown.

South Australia's Master Builders Association has warned the Government to not reduce the immigration quota; the Australian workforce would be needing as many workers as it can get to help the infrastructure boom soon to be fuelled by the Government's second stimulus package.

Senator Evans has said the record skilled migration quota would remain at a ceiling of 133,000 but that he would expect it would be cut for the next financial year.  He will also refrain from making changes to the Pacific guest worker scheme that went live this month, allowing thousands of Pacific Islanders to work in Australia in horticultural areas identified by the government as having critical labour shortage. 

"I expect the numbers of our program to drop next year ... as a reaction to the economic circumstances," Senator Evans told reporters.

"The critical skills list is under review and that's one of the things we will look at as the circumstances change.  We will probably have a formal look at that in the next couple of weeks."

Because the labour market across Australia is markedly different, the critical skills list reflects the gaps as identified in each state and territory, with Senator Evans assuring that his Government would not have a "one size fits all" approach.


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