29 August 2007

Small businesses advocate Australia immigration to address skill shortage

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Small businesses in Western Australia and other parts of the country are being forced to close because they can't find enough skilled people with trade and technical experience, reports Perth's Sunday Times. Both local authorities and the federal government recognise that Australian immigration is the only answer to the labour shortage.

The owner of a steel security company, Ian Saggers, told the Sunday Times he was closing his business because he has not been able to find anyone to train his staff to use the equipment. This is despite owning what is potentially a multimillion-dollar turnover business.

Skilled tradespeople such as machine operators are being lured to the high-paying jobs offered by mining operations in the north. Many trades are on the Migration Occupations in Demand List (Australian MODL), entitling applicants for an Australian visa to extra points.

Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews recently acknowledged: "The reality in Australia today is we've got the lowest unemployment rate for 33 years, in states like Western Australia and Queensland in particular, it's almost impossible to find some workers, in particularly skilled areas, and we're crying out for workers, without which we wouldn't be able to continue to run the economy of Australia."

Western Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) chief executive John Langoulant told the Sunday Times they are calling for increases in the number of skilled workers being brought in from overseas. "The chamber has been working with government and employers to develop innovative ways to solve the problem,' he said.

"The chamber advocates the use of skilled immigration schemes to help industry and business meet their growing short-term labour needs. However, improvements can be made to the present system by allowing more overseas skilled workers to enter the country.'

Australia needs skilled immigrants: Anyone applying for an Australian visa should begin by completing the Australian Visa Bureau's online Australian visa application to see if they meet the Australian visa requirements.

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