Australia: Calls to increase skilled immigration

03 December 2010

The Association of Mining and Exploration (AMEC) says that the Australian Government needs to change its skilled immigration policy or risk losing smaller projects related to the mining industry, according to Australian news outlet ABC News.

Under new enterprise migration agreements, only projects worth more than $10 billion will have faster and easier access to foreign workers. However, AMEC chief executive Simon Bennison says that this threshold is too high.

"We just think that discriminates against those smaller projects which essentially have the same sort of need for both skilled and unskilled workers in relation to their projects," he said.

"A lot of those projects may get stalled and not go ahead so there's a serious risk to some of those projects, if down the track when the shortage really kicks in, then those smaller projects will struggle because they do need a skilled workforce," Bennison added.

Australia is experiencing an increase in shortages of skilled workers as its economy continues to recover and unemployment rates fall. The mining sector in particular is in need of skilled overseas workers.

Many state and territory governments are doing their best to attract migrants. However, changes to Australian immigration law that are due next summer will make it more difficult for many migrants to immigrate, particularly many tradespeople. Whether the Federal government gives in to the needs of businesses and state and territory governments remains to be seen.