Australia immigration: Workers are needed from developed countries

11 March 2005


Labour force analysts say Australia must find workers from industrialized Countries to meet its need for skilled immigrants, the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reports.

According to Varina Nissen, Australian Managing Director of the international recruitment company Manpower, the firm has requests for metal workers from South Korea, mining engineers from Canada and South Africa, nurses from Ireland and electricity workers from France and Britain. Ms. Nissen said that while China would eventually become a big contributor of skilled workers, the fact that half of its labour force still works in the agricultural sector means that over the next three to five years Western countries will remain the main source of skilled migrants.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says this will mean that Australia will have to be more aggressive in attracting skilled migrants in an environment where all developed Countries face similar skills shortages. The Chamber says Australia should market itself as a migration destination, consider lifting the 45-year age cap for skilled migrants, and cut the top marginal tax rate to attract some of the one million Australians living overseas back home. However, unions and business representatives have expressed concerns that tax concessions would be unfair to workers in Australia.

The Australian Government is considering the establishment of an international database to match employers with overseas workers. The Australian Department of Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA) announced earlier this month that an extra 20,000 skilled immigration visas will be provided in the next financial year. DIMIA says tradesmen are the skills group most in need, but also lists chartered accountants, medical professionals, welders and hairdressers as other skills that are in short supply in Australia.