16 October 2008

Mixed results from Australian migration: construction, mining and nurses needed

Although the Immigration Department has admitted success in the skilled migration department in meeting key labour shortages in the Australian economy, it has also had to acknowledge its failure to ease the growing shortage in the construction, mining and nursing industries, reports The Australian.

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) increased its focus on training and education so that more graduates would be ready to work in areas of key shortages, such as the construction, mining and nursing industries.  However, it seems more migrants and students on Australian student visas are choosing vocations that will get them easier "points" towards their skilled migration application, such as hairdressing, hospitality management, accounting, and computing.

People wishing to apply for Australian skilled migration have their visa applications assessed against a system of points.  Applicants can be awarded points based on their age, skill level, experience, and the level of need within a particular job sector. 

The government maintains state-specific updated lists of occupations in demand, and this year miners, construction workers, registered nurses, dentists, engineers, radiographers, urban planners, occupational therapists, electricians, bakers, bricklayers, mechanics, carpenters and chefs are among the top 20 occupational shortage areas identified by the states and territories.

Although hospitality management, welfare studies, hairdressing, accounting, cookery and computing are identified on the Migration Occupations in Demand List, experts are saying the government needs to focus on recruiting more people in the areas of greater shortage and educate more young Australians in these areas.

Mr Speldewinde, DIAC's skilled migration director, said it was "clear there are not so much loopholes, but areas in which (earning) points probably stimulate people to go down certain paths.  Clearly the Migrant Occupation on Demand List (under which migrants get points toward permanent residency) is driving very, very strongly migrants' choices," he said.

Monash University demographer Bob Birrell said migrants are also not settling in areas desperate for skilled migrants. 

"More than half the skilled immigrants are settling in Sydney and Melbourne [rather than Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia] … and the surge in skilled migration program is not delivering the skills needed in mining and construction industries, and that's the Government's main concern," Mr Birrell said.

He added; the government needs to refocus its attention on encouraging higher education over vocational training, as the latter is providing an easier and cheaper route to Australian permanent residency and not properly serving the needs of the Australian community.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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