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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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SOCCEROOS coach Pim Verbeek looks to have secured the services of promising Perth-born Middlesborough defender Rhys Williams.

The youngster turned down Wales to pledge his international future to Australia. pim-verbeek
The 20-year-old, who has a Welsh grandfather, has played 10 times for the Wales under-21 side but is yet to kick a ball for the senior line-up despite being called into the squad several times.

Williams had recently threatened to commit to Wales after being overlooked for the Socceroos but Verbeek, who is in Europe keeping tabs on Australia’s overseas-based players, has convinced the versatile defender to pursue his dream of playing for Australia.

Williams’ fate now lies with FIFA’s transfer committee but if he gets the rubber stamp he could be eligible to be selected for Australia’s World Cup qualifier in Qatar on June 6.

“Rhys has informed us that he wants now to play for Australia,” Wales spokesman Ceri Stennett said of Williams, who can play in central defence or at right back.

“The wheels are now in motion, and a decision will be made by FIFA’s transfer committee.

“But it looks like a fait accompli now.”

Williams, who left Australia at 16 to become a trainee at Middlesborough, made a name for himself this season on loan at promotion-chasing Championship club Burnley.

He impressed in 17 appearances with the club before being forced to return to Middlesborough before the promotion playoffs after failing to have his loan deal extended.

Burnley will face Reading on Wednesday morning (AEST) for a place in the promotion playoff final against Sheffield United.

Williams was not in Middlesbrough’s squad for Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Newcastle, which consigned them to almost certain relegation, but he could feature in their final two games of the season.

His displays for the Middlesbrough reserves prior to joining Burnley earned him a contract extension with the club until June 2011 and also attracted the attention of Welsh under 21s coach Brian Flynn.

Williams first forced himself into the senior Wales set-up for last September’s qualifier against Azerbaijan but was yet to make his senior debut which, under FIFA regulations, would have meant he could not play for Australia.

His manager Gary Williams said in March the player saw his future with Wales because he had not had contact from anyone else, but hinted he was still interested in playing for Australia.

Wales said they would not be hurried into giving him a cap just to ensure he he was tied to them and, with his 21st birthday looming, Verbeek has now convinced Williams he has a future with the Socceroos.

www.news.com.au


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studentsUNIVERSITIES are urging the Government to ease immigration restrictions on academics to help head off a looming shortage as large numbers of baby-boomer professors and lecturers retire.

Amid the fallout from the global financial crisis, the Government in March moved to cut the permanent skilled migration intake. But universities, which see migration as a way to overcome looming academic skills shortages, are warning that the move could leave the economy short when it recovers.

universitiesof five universities, said in a briefing paper.

“In fact, it has the potential to see the economy left wanting precisely at the time we expect to see improved economic conditions.”

The ATN is lobbying Immigration Minister Chris Evans to ease restrictions on academic migration to make it easier to recruit offshore amid rising competition globally for academics.

Between 1994 and 2006, Australian universities employed more than 7000 academics from overseas on permanent or long-term arrangements.

“This figure will need to grow expotentially to replace the exodus of academics leaving the workforce in the next 15 years,” the ATN said.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au

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