Sue Ellson’s Newcomers’ Network has alerted us to a disagreement between academics and politicians over skilled migration. The situation could be adding to rental problems so some discussion is probably warranted.

A new study has found that almost half of Australia’s skilled migrants from non-English speaking countries cannot get a job in their field of expertise.

Monash University demographer Dr Bob Birrell says Australia’s intake of skilled migrants has doubled since 2001 to fill jobs in fields like accounting, information technology and health but the Skilled Migration Program is not achieving its aim and the visa system should change to address the problem.

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans rejects Dr Birrell’s findings, saying more than 70 per cent of skilled migrants are employed in their field and the Government is backing the existing program.

About General Skilled Migration

“The General Skilled Migration program is for people who are not sponsored by an employer and who have skills in occupations that Australia needs to fill labor shortages. Applicants must be over 18 and under 45 years of age and speak good English. They must also have recent skilled work experience or a recently earned and eligible Australian qualification as well as qualifications for an occupation listed on Australia’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

Recent changes have been made to the Australian General Skilled Migration program. These include more points awarded for very good English skills and reducing the visa structure from 15 subclasses to 9 subclasses to make it more easy for an applicant to know which visa subclass best suits him/her.”

Dr Birrell says:

“What has actually happened is that we have primarily recruited professional people with degree qualifications from non-English speaking background countries and only a small minority of these migrants have actually been able to obtain professional or managerial positions in Australia…

The employment rate is marginally better for skilled migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds who are aged over 30…

But only 22 per cent of those under 30 years old end up working in their field, and most of that group actually had an Australian tertiary qualification.

The former overseas students don’t do anywhere near as well as do Australian-born persons in the same age group, and it would seem the main reason is they lack the English communication skills that would be expected of persons trained in Australia…

I think we would be better advised at the moment to spend additional finance helping the tens of thousands of non-English speaking background migrants who are already here with bridging courses in order to assist them to make use of their qualifications…

There is certainly is a case to look critically at the various skilled programs to see if we could reduce them in order to diminish the burden of extra people that are currently going to Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and adding to rental problems and adding to the demand for infrastructure and housing that is stretching Australian capacity in the construction industry.”

Can anyone throw any further light on this situation?

NB A 2013 link provided by a reader of this article may help others:
Thanks Abbey

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