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WA will be able to handpick permanent migrants to service the booming resources sector and other areas of critical need under a massive overhaul of the skilled migration program to be unveiled today.

Under the changes, Immigration Minister Chris Evans will revoke and refund 20,000 applications from would-be skilled migrants and instead give top priority to those who are sponsored by employers and States for high-level jobs.

The overhaul is geared towards making Australia’s skilled migration super-responsive to urgent shortfalls in qualified mining and health sector workers, while also tightening permanent visa criteria for overseas students studying courses in low skill occupations.

Senator Evans will immediately abolish the Migration Occupations in Demand List, which gazettes 106 areas of preferred workers, replacing it by April with a more targeted Skilled Occupations List drawn up by the independent Federal authority Skills Australia in consultation with the States and business.

It means doctors, nurses, engineers and high-value professions and trades will have priority over low-skilled workers such as hairdressers and chefs.

In WA, as yesterday’s Olivier Jobs Index showed, the most sought after workers are in engineering, trades and services, and building.

In a marked departure from the existing skilled migration scheme, States will be asked to draw up their own migration plans to allow fast-tracking of applications for migrants sponsored by States or companies for specific jobs.

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence. 

The bar will be raised for unsponsored skilled migration applicants, with criteria such as proficiency in the English language, work experience and overseas qualifications to be made tougher.

The overall annual skilled migration intake will remain unchanged at 108,100 people.

The changes are likely to have a significant impact on the burgeoning multi-billion-dollar overseas student market where hundreds of thousands of foreign students have come to Australia to undergo trades training, enticed by the prospect of permanent residency.

The Government believes such courses are skewing the migration program, leaving new permanent residents with poor English and little prospect of finding work in their nominated field of expertise.

Foreign students in Australia studying in areas dumped from the new skilled occupation hit list will be given 18 months after completion of their studies to find sponsorship from an employer or sent home.

The Government believes the new regime will help the clampdown on unscrupulous migration agents, many of whom are Indian-based, who con students into believing completion of an Australian course gives automatic entitlement to permanent residence.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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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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