24 September 2007

Shortage of scientists needs Australian immigration

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Not enough is being done to tackle Australia's shortage of scientists, according to a leading academic. Australia needs to plan for more scientists and science professionals through the allocation of Australian visas. It must do this to compete in the international market, which requires technical workers.

John Rice, dean of science at the University of Technology Sydney and head of the Australian Council of Deans of Science, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the problem was on the government's radar but they are "ducking the issue". He said the government will be "cutting its own throat" if it doesn't address the shortage now.

A federal government audit last year found the projected demand for science skills is for a further 55,000 professionals by 2012-13, reports the newspaper. But Australia is likely to have up to 35 per cent less scientists than it needs. "We see nothing that's like a workforce plan that will give you any confidence that the authorities are on top of that problem," said Professor Rice.

An aging population is compounding the problem, with many experienced science and maths teachers retiring or due to retire.

Many science fields are on the Australian Migration Occupations in Demand List (the Australian MODL) and Britons with science skills may be eligible for extra points in the general skilled migration points test.

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

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