Australia looks for more skilled migrants

Australia looks for more skilled migrants

New Delhi: The Australian High Commission is rolling out the largest skilled migration programme in the country’s history, starting on 1 July.

The focus of the Skilled Migrant Selection Model is to “bring people into Australia with a broad range of skills and experiences" to complement Australia’s regional and economic needs, Australian assistant secretary Peter Speldewinde said in a press conference on Friday.

The new policy gives priority to highly skilled migrants based on their education, work experience, skills, English language ability and other relevant qualifications and aims to court migrants who will fill Australian labour market shortages. As of now, the 2011-2012 permanent migration planning level is set at 185,000—125,850 for skilled migrants—which is an increase of 16,300 from the previous year. Migration to Australia peaked at 320,400 in 2009—due primarily to large numbers of international students who would come as temporary residents and stay to pursue permanent residency—and was deliberately reduced by government policy to accommodate a vision that focuses on courting only the “best and the brightest" migrants to work and live in Australia.

The point-based system has also undergone an overhaul.

The age cap for aspiring immigrants has been raised from 45 to 50, although the “favoured" age for skilled migrants is 25-33. The system was also changed so that points will be now be allocated to migrants with academic qualifications from non-Australian colleges and universities, though higher points will still be given to those who have studied in Australia and have experience working in the country.

Under the new system, aspiring migrants first fill out an “electronic expression of interest" where they submit personal information and qualifications (education, work experience, family size, etc.). Their electronic submission will be reviewed by immigration officers and prioritized according to how their skills match Australian labour market demands. Based on this self-evaluation, and the subsequent “ranking", the government will then invite select aspiring migrants to apply for visas. In this way, the model aims to match the number of applicants with the number of available programme places. Some skill sets in high demand include engineers, medical professionals and scientists.

Starting one year from now--on 1 July, 2012—the number of visas, “caps" and skill preferences will be adjusted annually in accordance with Australian labour market demand, which will be announced before the programme year begins every 1 July. The first round of invitations under this new model is expected to take place in January 2013.

This is the largest overhaul since Australia began running its migration programme 66 years ago, according to Speldewinde. Recent statistics show one in four Australians was born overseas, and a significant number are of Indian origin. Indians account for the second-largest skilled immigrant group to Australia, and for one of the major sources of skilled migrant labour. There are currently approximately 300,000 Indians living in Australia.