Australian employers get education on attracting immigrants

08 February 2006

Australia's lack of skilled workers has hit the city of Ballarat hard.

Ballarat Migration Project's CEO Narelle Hibberd said the city's vacancy rates in building, engineering, automotive and hairdressing were higher than the national rate.

"It's a growing issue and it's not going to go away," she said.

Mrs Hibberd said Ballarat business owners needed to consider attracting skilled migrants to fill vacancies.

"We're hoping to educate employers and let them know attracting skilled migrants is an option," she said.

Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs regional outreach officer Claire Dunn was also a guest speaker at the breakfast.

Ms Dunn said it was important that people realised skilled migrants only filled positions that could not be filled locally.

"Obviously we want Australian citizens and permanent residents to have the opportunity to fill the positions," she said.

Ms Dunn outlined the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme to employers attending the forum. She said there were both temporary and permanent options and employers could access a skill-matching database on the DIMIA website.

Ms Dunn said the scheme was designed to assist the economic development of regional Australia by encouraging skilled migrants to settle permanently in regional or low-population growth areas. Mrs Hibberd said a holistic approach to skilled migrants needed to be taken for it to be successful.

"We recognise employers are limited in providing a holistic approach, and this is where the City of Ballarat is leading and supporting the community to ensure successful attraction and retention of migrants, and a positive experience for employers," she said.