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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Australia reducing labor shortages through skilled immigration

New data released by immigration authorities in Australia show a 27 percent increase in its temporary skilled migration program for 2007-08 financial year.

According to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, the increase in the number of temporary 457 visas highlighted the importance of the program to Australian employers in delivering skilled labor from overseas.

A total of 110,570 temporary visas were granted to foreign workers and their dependents in 2007-08 compared to 87,310 the previous year. The number of primary visa holders increased from 46,680 in 2006-07 to 58,050 in 2007-08.

New South Wales had the largest number of 457 visas granted with a total of 20,480 primary 457 visa holders, followed by Western Australia at 11,800 primary visa holders.

81 percent of foreign workers holding temporary 457 visas were employed in professional occupations and highly skilled jobs. The top three occupations were computing professionals, registered nurses, and business and information professionals.

Nearly 25 percent of 457 visa holders in 2007-08 came from the United Kingdom. They were followed by India at 14 percent, the Philippines at 9 percent, and the US, South Africa and China at 6 percent each.

The 457 temporary visa allows employers to hire overseas workers for periods between three months and four years. However many choose to remain in Australia permanantly. In 2007-08, 25,000 457 visa holders became permanent residents, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year.

Evans stated that minimum salary levels for 457 visa holders will rise at the end of the summer.

"Minimum Salary Levels for subclass 457 visa holders will increase by 3.8 per cent from August 1 after remaining frozen for more than two years," Evans stated in a release.

Minister says Australia needs unskilled overseas labor

Australia may need to let in more unskilled foreign labor to meet critical shortages in some industries, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

Evans told the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy that the agricultural, hospitality, and aged care industries are demanding access to unskilled and semi-skilled workers from overseas.

"The question of whether or not temporary and unskilled foreign labour is needed to sustain our economy has been answered," Evans said. "Our economy is already reliant on that labour source."

He stated that in some cases, businesses may be forced to shut down if they cannot fill occupations with help from overseas.

Currently, Australia's immigration policy grants preference to skilled migrants under schemes such as the 457 temporary foreign worker visa and the General Skilled Migration program.

Recently, the Australian government increased the number of people allowed under its skilled migration policy for the current financial year by 31,000. This brings the total number of skilled migration places to 133,500.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Trade Personnel: Migrating as a trade person

There are a lots of skilled trade persons in demand in Australia. Some of such trade persons are

1. Automotive Electrician
2. Cooks and Chefs
3. Blacksmith
4. Plumbers
5. Brick layers
6. Butcher
7. Carpenter
8. Electrician
9. Gardener
10. Hair Dresser

The list is exhaustive and can be checked by viewing the Skilled Occupation list at the following URL

Migrating as a trade person is relatively easy as compared to a Professional or an Associate professional. There are many limitations on professionals which are not there on trade persons. For example, to immigrate as a trade person,

  1. You only need to have a score of band 5 , vocational, in all modules to be eligible for an application for permanent residency where as in non-trade professions such as accountant, IT, engineering, you require a minimum score of band 6 in all modules of IELTS.
  2. The minimum amount of study requirement is only high school where as in most non-trade professions the minimum amount of requirement is at least a bachelors degree.
The above mentioned two main advantages of applying for immigration as a trade person make it very easy for trade persons to apply for offshore immigration.

The greatest benefit in applying for immigration as a trades person is that there is great abundance of highly paid jobs for qualified trades personnel. I personally know a chef who gets paid an annual salary of $80,000 in one of Sydney's best restaurant.

So my advice to all those people who are not able to apply for immigration as professionals is that they should explore the option of applying for immigration as a trades person.

The usual process of skills assessment and the usual requirement of work experience of one year applies to trade personnel as well.

In most cases the assessing body for trades personnel is either VETASSES or TRA.

Australia: Extensions to some Working Holiday visas

Some young people in Australia on Working Holiday visas will be allowed to stay longer, Immigration Minister Chris Evans announced on 01 July 2008.

"From today, working holiday visa holders who have worked in the construction industry in regional Australia for at least three months will be eligible to apply for a second working holiday visa," Evans said.

"Extending this concession to construction will help this booming industry by encouraging people on working holidays to undertake short-term construction work in regional Australia," he added.

Previously, second Working Holiday visas were only available to individuals who have worked for farmers in regional Australia for at least three months.

The initiative has assisted thousands of farmers across Australia. Almost 12,000 second Working Holiday visas are expected to be granted in 2007-08.

"We are seeing a record backpacker program this year, which is great for businesses, especially in regional Australia, and good news for Australia's tourism industries," Evans noted.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the number of Working Holiday makers has more than doubled in the past decade. DIAC estimates that 155,000 visas are likely to be granted in 2007-08, a 24% increase over the previous year.

DIAC also estimated that 180,000 Working Holiday visas may be granted in 2008-09.

"The increasing numbers of working holiday makers will continue to meet the needs of other industries that employ the backpackers and will not be disadvantaged by the extension of the concession to the construction industry," Evans said.

Australia: Minister urges states to increase skilled immigration

Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans is urging states and territories to increase their use of state-sponsored skilled migration to meet labor market demands.

"There is the capacity within the Federal Government's permanent skilled migration program for states and territories to sponsor overseas skilled workers in occupations in demand," Evans said.

Evans noted that the government recently added an extra 31,000 skilled migrant places to the 2008-09 Migration Program in an effort to help employers in Australia deal with skills shortages. In total, skilled migration makes up 133,500 places in the Migration Program.

"I will be encouraging the states and territories to increase their use of state-sponsored migration to better link skilled workers to the economic needs in their jurisdictions," Evans said. He said that the government would consider providing "greater flexibility" for states and territories under the sponsorship program to enable them to sponsor more skilled migrants.

According to Department of Immigration and Citizenship figures, state and territory sponsored skilled migration only makes up 10 percent of overall skilled migration into Australia in recent years. In comparison, employer sponsored immigration makes up 20 percent.

Skilled workers coming to Australia under independent skilled migration visas -- the visa of choice for most individuals looking to live and work in Australia -- continue to dominate the program at over 50 percent.

Australia: Experts to advise government on 457 visas

A panel of experts will advise the Australian government on how to improve its temporary 457 visa scheme, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

The panel will include various Australian state government officials as well as industry groups and union representatives.

Australia's temporary 457 visa -- similar to the United States H-1B visa -- allows Australian employers to hire workers from abroad. Controversy has surrounded the program related to allegations of employer-exploitation of workers.

In addition to providing advice pertaining to possible skilled migration policy changes, the panel will advise the government on an ongoing "integrity" review of the 457 visa program and provide feedback on reform proposals.

The panel will also examine how the temporary 457 visa program "can best integrate with the employer and state-sponsored permanent skilled migration program," according to a press release by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Employer and state-sponsored permanent migration makes up a small part of Australia's immigration program, something Minister Evans would like to see changed. Currently, more than 50 percent of skilled immigrants come to Australia under its independent visa categories, which do not require sponsorship or a previous job offer.

Australia responds to need for skilled migrants

Three new Australian 'Centres of Excellence' have been set up in Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne to speed up the processing of temporary 457 visa applications for employers wishing to hire overseas workers.

The centers were set up in response to increasing demand by Australian employers for skilled workers from overseas to help ease labor shortages.

The 457 visa allows Austrlalian employers to employ skilled workers from abroad to fill occupations in Australia on a temporary basis for between three months and four years.

The centers come in response to recommendations by a panel of experts commissioned by the government to help improve the efficiency of the 457 visa program.

According to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, 457 visa processing times were already showing improvement.

"In June 2007, an average of 400 cases was processed within seven days whereas in June 2008, more than 1200 applicants were granted visas within a week," Evans said.

"The 457 program is critical to meeting the current labour market demands and the new Centres of Excellence will continue to improve the effectiveness of the processing of visas," he added.

Australian immigration authorities were dealing with a backlog of about 13,000 subclass 457 visa applications since March. That backlog has since been cleared.

The 457 visa is only one of many visas designed to bring skilled overseas workers to Australia. The General Skilled Migration (GSM) program allows skilled individuals in a long list of occupations to immigrate to Australia permanently, with or without an existing job offer with an Australian employer.