27 July 2005

Australian skills shortage continues; need for engineers and traditional trades

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Despite the Australian Government’s announcement today of the success of its 2004-2005 Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program, the Government conceded it is still in desperate need of engineers and traditional trades people.

Labour analysts have predicted a dire skills shortage in Australia over the next ten years as the country’s ageing population faces retirement.

In April, Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone announced the 2005-06 Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program would increase by about 20,000 places exceeding the country’s 2004-05 immigration record.

‘To assist employers to benefit from this increase, my department will work in partnership with industry and State/Territory governments to take advantage of employer sponsored and State sponsored migration, particularly in areas of critical skills shortage in Australia such as engineering and the traditional trades,’ the Minister said.

‘The 77,880 skill stream migrants in 2004-05 account for about 65 per cent of the total program. At 120,060, the overall Migration (non-Humanitarian) Program was the largest since the late 1980s,’ Senator Vanstone said.

Improved targeting in the Skill Stream has resulted in increases over the previous year’s numbers of doctors (294 per cent), nurses (40 per cent), accountants (48 per cent) and tradespersons (38 per cent) such as mechanical, electrical, construction and automotive tradespersons.

Not only was the number of migrants sponsored by employers and by State and Territory Governments the largest ever, the number of skilled migrants choosing to live and work in Australia’s regional areas also reached an all time high.

About 18,700 visas were granted under the State Specific and Regional Migration (SSRM) mechanisms in 04-05, almost a 50 percent increase on 2003-04.

‘Migrants are playing a vital role in helping to address the critical skill shortages felt by employers in local communities across Australia,’ said Senator Vanstone.

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