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Industry leaders in Australia are urging the Australian federal government to overhaul its skilled immigration program to address a looming shortage of workers.

Recent changes by DIAC to the skilled migration visa processing times have meant that many hundreds of applicants for visas have been told that they may have to wait up to 3 years and this is slated to impact on several massive projects announced for Western Australia, including the Gorgon gas development, expansion of the Pluto LNG plant and the development of the Mid-West iron ore region including the massive Gindalbie iron ore mine which will need upwards of 1500 workers during the construction stage.

 The recent Australian Financial Review (afr.com.au) has stated that skills shortages are set to intensify in coming years.

The article calls for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to urgently look at reviewing Australian visa policies to ensure that these shortages can be filled. More immigrants will be needed to work in Australia in industries such as energy, mining  and IT which, according to the review, face a major skills shortage unless something drastic is done to alleviate it.

Major Australian firms such as infrastructure giant United Group have also released warnings to the government that they will be facing skills shortages within 12 to 18 months.

The firm’s CEO Richard Leupen declared that the shortage has been brought about as a result of the tightening of the business visa rules. He says this has coincided with the company’s reduction in training programmes for staff in response to the recession.

In the IT industry, the need is even more acute. A study, commissioned by Microsoft Australia, has found the IT industry will generate $21 billion for GDP by the end of 2013 but any potential growth could be stifled by the shortage of skilled labour.

Bruce Mills, chief executive of IT consultancy firm 3W, says as more IT work becomes available, such as the National Broadband Network, companies will struggle to grow and obtain new projects if the number of skilled workers remains flat.

“What has occurred is that everything that was done to avoid the global financial crisis has sort of spilled over, and so by the time any of the results were felt any issue that caused the crisis is over, and that is what has happened with the tightening of 457 visas.”

Source  :  www.australiamagazine.co.uk

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Chefs and hairdressers will top the list of most sought-after jobs as Australia emerges from the wake of the global financial crisis. It is thought that the highly transient nature of these jobs, with a high turnover and burnout rate, contributes to the skills shortage in these areas and the inability of supply to meet demand.

Other in-demand occupations will include health-care workers, educators, automotive and metal tradespeople, and IT professionals. The accounting and IT sectors are expected to experience high demand because of industry growth over the next two years.

Not so lucky are those in advertising, public relations and finance, as yet further job cuts are expected in these industries in the next couple of years. Those in marketing have been particularly hard-hit as companies slash marketing budgets in an attempt to stay afloat.

The construction industry has also been struggling as many building and development projects ground to a halt, leaving many construction workers out of work. However, with the Federal Government expected to fund new projects with its stimulus package until 2011, things could start looking up in the near future for the building industry. Industry insiders predict an impending resurgence and consequent shortage of construction workers and apprentices.
 
Some projections anticipate that unemployment will peak at around 7.5 per cent in mid-2010 to early 2011, but those sectors benefiting from public funding and the stimulus package – such as the health sector, education and infrastructure – should be well-protected and enjoy sustained demand.

Jobs such as chef, cook, hairdresser, automotive electrician, panelbeater, metal machinist, welder, bricklayer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, accountant, computing professionals and a variety of health care professionals (dentists, GPs, nurses and many others) all appear on the current Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) as the government attempts to fill in some of the gaps through skilled migration.

Not surprisingly given this outlook, enrolment in vocational courses in hospitality, hairdressing, automative trades and IT are up as students and job-seekers attempt to find work and fill the skills shortage gap. If you are at a career crossroads, trying to decide what to study or just trying to find a job, perhaps you, too, should consider jumping on the skills shortage bandwagon – and land yourself a job in the process.

Source  :  www.careerfaqs.com.au

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A new report has found Australia’s migration program is more effectively meeting the needs of employers with a 60 per cent increase in the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants to Australia in 2008-09 compared with the previous year.

The Report on Migration Program 2008-09 shows that the Rudd Government’s targeted approach to overseas workers is helping to fill critical skills gaps in the healthcare, engineering, financial services and IT sectors.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that changes introduced in January including the Critical Skills List (CSL) of high value occupations and prioritising employer-sponsored or state/territory-sponsored skilled migration visa grants were having a significant impact.

Overseas workers who were sponsored by employers comprised 33 per cent of the 2008-09 skill stream compared to 22 per cent in 2007-08 and 17 per cent in 2006-07.
“A properly targeted migration program will ensure we have the right sized and appropriately skilled labour force to meet Australia’s needs now and into the future as our economy recovers and grows.”

The Government cut the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration intake in March 2009 by 14 per cent from 133 500 to 115 000 and reduced planning levels for the permanent skilled migrant intake in the overall 2009-10 migration program to 108 100 places.

“This is in direct response to the economic slowdown and represents an overall drop of almost 20 per cent on previous planning levels,” Senator Evans said.

“The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic conditions while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages such as healthcare and engineering. “The reduction is being achieved through a cutback in places in independent skilled migration rather than in the high-demand employer-sponsored category or in areas in which Australia has critical skills shortages.”

Across all permanent skilled visa categories, the top three occupations for successful applicants were accountancy (6238), computing professionals (3879) and registered nurses (3355) while the top three countries of citizenship under the skill stream were the United Kingdom (23 178), India (20 105) and China (13 927).

“Australia’s migration program is better targeting the needs of Australian employers who are still experiencing skill shortages,” Senator Evans said.

Source  :  www.manmonthly.com.au

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twitterTWITTER is the new tool being used to fight against high supermarket prices across Australia.

Following the failure of the Federal Government’s Grocery Choice website – set up to help shoppers find the lowest grocery prices in supermarkets around the country – a group of IT experts are using Twitter and Google Groups to develop Price Check, a website they hope will save shoppers money.

Using crowd-sourcing technology, shoppers will eventually be able to log onto the web or via a mobile phone application to find the best-priced supermarket items in their area.

The website will allow shoppers to enter their entire shopping list on the website to find the best prices.                                                                                                     

Users will also be asked to update price items.

“I think I am heavily in favour of an open system and I believe there should be access to the public,’’ idea developer Rob Mason told news.com.au.

“(Users) will be able to enter their postcode … and source products on the site linked to the data base and compare prices and find which supermarket is best-priced.”

Mr Mason said the more the public demand access to cheaper prices, the more likely supermarket giants such as Coles and Woolworths will comply.

He said the response from Twitter users has been “fantastic”.

“If we get people involved and active, we can get all the prices in all the supermarkets,” he said.

“The feedback has been really good; we have gathered as much followers as the big supermarkets.”

Mr Mason said the major supermarkets have a responsibility to be open about their prices.

He admitted if successful, the Price Check idea would be unpopular with the supermarket chains.

“There is absolutely no commercial gain for them to be had by being open and transparent,” he said.

“At the moment it is more of a social thing, supporting an open system rather than saving heaps of money … but there is a potential.”

Follow @price_check for notification of the website launch.

Source www.news.com.au

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Australia’s demand for IT support staff is currently soaring, promising potential applicants with faster immigration process. IT workers are at an advantage with Australia’s visa system, wherein applicants are categorized by points and are classified by age, language, skill, occupation and experience.                                                                          IT
 
According to the Australian Visa Bureau, over 23,000  UK citizens have migrated to Australia.
 
Australian Visa Bureau director Guy Bradley said, “As many IT professionals have critical skills needed throughout Australia, and/or are on specific state and territory sponsored lists, the government will fast-track them through the skilled migration process, and process their visas as a matter of priority.”
 
“Of course the lure of the glittering beaches, open spaces, and high quality of life down under will never be overlooked, but Australia is increasingly attractive to emigrants because it looks to be pulling out of the global recession sooner than Britain,” Bradley added.
 
IT positions needed require expertise in data warehousing, C++, C and C#, risk management, e-commerce security, SAP, Siebel, .Net, Cobol, Unix, Java, SQL Server, networking LAN/WAN and IT project management.
 

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