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Recently, international professional services firm, KPMG  , released the results of their survey into skilled migration (Class 457 Visas) in Australia. These survey results, combined with recent data releases from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship   (DIAC) make for interesting reading.


I’ve reproduced the most relevant data below:


1.      There were 64,400 Class 457 Visa holders in Australia as at 30 June 2010, down from 78,000 in May 2009 and 22% lower than the peak of 83,000 reached in February 2009.  

2.      In the 2009/2010 financial year, the largest increases in skilled migration by industry occurred in Manufacturing (13.5%) and Mining (12.5%) followed by Finance, Retail, Business Consulting and Construction (all 7.5%).  

3.      By state, Western Australia had the largest increase (34%) followed by Victoria (30%).  

4.      By country, respondents’ 457 visa holders are sourced from (only top 11 listed)

·                          UK (26%)

·                          South Africa (13%)

·                          USA (9%)

·                          Philippines (6.5%)

·                          India (5.5%)

·                          Germany (5%)

·                          China (4.5%)  

·                          Canada (4%)

·                          Japan (3.5%)

·                          Ireland (3%)

·                          Malaysia (3%)  

5.      Employers, on a state-by-state basis, reporting a shortage of desired skills; Queensland (72%), WA (54%), NSW (52%), Victoria (51%), SA (43%).  

6.      Skills most in demand with respondents:

·                          Engineering (21%)

·                          Trades (12%)

·                          Manufacturing/Ops (6.5%)

·                          Construction (6%)

·                          Healthcare/Medical (5%)

·                          Sales & Marketing (5%)

·                          Banking/Financial Services (5%)


The Business Council of Australia   and Skills Australia   estimate that over the next 15 years the Australia economy will, growing at 2.1% per annum, need an additional 9.2 million workers, 4.8 million of them to service the net growth in the required workforce and 4.4 million to replace the retiring ‘baby boomers’.


The Federal Government, spooked by the marginal electorate backlash to former PM Kevin Rudd’s enthusiasm for ‘a big Australia’, have dashed around trying to create the impression that they are listening to those same unhappy punters out in the infrastructure-challenged ‘burbs.


Changing Minister, Tony Burke’s portfolio from ‘Population’ to ‘Sustainable Population’ was their first crude and pathetic attempt to demonstrate their new-found listening skills.


Now we have the new Skilled Migration Test which business groups, especially small business, have slammed as unnecessarily raising the standards for English language skills in jobs that don’t require such high standards (eg chefs).


The Australian Industry Group   have criticised the government for awarding 50% more points to potential migrants with an undergraduate degree, compared with a trade qualification when it is trade skills that many parts of Australia are desperately seeking (do tradies ever return calls?).


The Housing Industry Association   reported that the shortage of tradespeople had reached the highest point since September 2008. Their quarterly survey showed declines in the availability of 9 out of 13 trades during the September 2010 quarter.


Last financial year, net migration into Australia was 241,000 people. The Federal Government seems to be intent on bringing that number down to around 170,000 people per annum.


Skills Australia   urges not only an increase in investment in training but also policies to assist to lift Australia’s labour force participation rate from its current level of between 65% and 66% to 69% by 2025. Keeping Australians aged 55-64 in the workforce longer is a critical component of achieving that goal.


My overall conclusion about Australia’s skilled migration policy – it’s a dog’s breakfast.


Short-term political imperatives are clashing badly with both short-term and long-term economic realities and as a result we get knee-jerk policies, the business community receives mixed messages and the end result is frustration and anger all round.


Over the next three years, the respective performances of Senator Chris Evans (Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations), Chris Bowen (Minister for Immigration and Citizenship) and Tony Burke (Minister for Sustainable Population) will be critical to the Labor Party’s chances of re-election in 2013.

We desperately need them to deliver the goods – for our country’s sake.

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Is there really a skills shortage? Or is it because employers rule out anyone over 50, new graduates, young men with bad employment backgrounds who grow up in their 20s, or anyone else who doesn't fit a certain pidgeon hole.


Employers also seem to be ignoring qualified people with disabilities as a source of skilled labour. As for the editorial on UK recruiters working in the Australian setting, I wonder how much this will change the manner and nature of applications in Australia. My husband is a British immigrant and his CV was almost funny when he first started job hunting here. I've since seen the same thing several times among recent arrivals from the UK. CVs in the UK are far less businesslike (dry?) than Australian CVs and are very focused on the values of the applicant. My initial impression was 'how chatty!' I wonder how these recruiters who are new to the Australian industry would view our more dry, fact-based CVs – they certainly don't reveal as much about the personality of the applicant. An example – my husband's CV (professionally prepared for him) included a photo of him with his parents and their dog! Not saying either style is right, but can't help but wonder about the implications of such different professional cultures merging…

Interesting article and numbers. However, I was personally disappointed 2 years ago when I left Lebanon to Australia intending to stay there for good with my daughters. I am Australian, by descent. My daughters are permanent residents. I have around 25 years of managerial experience in multifunctions: HR, Operations, Sales in diversified industries: Food retail, fashion retail, manufacturing (with multinational and regional companies) and most recently in investment management. I searched for a job again and again and was always disappointed that I don't have the "Australian Experience". So where did that lead me to? I had to go back to Lebanon to work……I applied for less managerial positions and I was told that I am over-qualified !! Where would a person with my experience start ??????

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