Too many cooks upsets the immigration mix in Australia

by Ray Clancy on February 4, 2014

in Australia, Australia Immigration, General Information

Too many cooks are spoiling the immigration broth in Australia, as figures show they received more visas than any other group of workers last year.

The Department of Immigration and Border Control’s 2012/2013 Migration Programme Report shows that more than 8,000 cooks were granted permanent visas. The next top group was accountants at 5,700 visas, then software engineers at 2,160, IT business analysts at 1,550 and hairdressers also at 1,550.

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The 2012/2013 Migration Programme Report shows that more than 8,000 cooks were granted permanent visas

This data goes against the claim that the country’s skilled migration programme is aimed at highly skilled workers, according to migration expert Bob Birrell of Monash University.

He pointed out that currently the skilled migration programme is dominated by workers from India and China, who comprised about half of the 129,000 places approved last year.

He argues that the spike in visas for cooks and hairdressers was caused by allowing former foreign students who were living here to apply for permanent residency. These people were caught out by changes to the skilled migration rules but the Immigration Department had unwisely told them they could continue to apply for residency.

‘Now that demand for migration is tapering off a bit they are obliged to deal with these applicants. They are filling up their quota with these warehoused applicants, that’s why we’re getting so many cooks,’ he explained.

He does not believe that Australia has a highly skilled migration programme as such. ‘The programme has a life of its own and it’s continuing at very high levels notwithstanding the sharp downturn in the need for skilled migrants,’ he added.

The Migration Program Report says that the skilled migration system is focused on migrants to help fill critical skill needs, particularly in regional areas. This included almost 50,000 places nominated by employers and state or territory governments, and 44,000 in the skilled independent category.

The data also shows that there were more than 114,000 applicants waiting to be processed for skilled migration as of June 30 last year.

Australia is an attractive destination for migrants because of its affluence and substantial job opportunities. ‘That along with the opening up of our migration programme by successive governments has led to a record high influx of both permanent and temporary migrants in recent years,’ explained Birrell, but he added that the labour market has weakened recently.

Indeed, a report from the Employment Department shows the proportion of new university graduates in full time work is at its lowest level since the 1990s recession and there are concerns that job prospects for graduates could get worse as more and more highly educated job seekers flood the market.

The department has reportedly called for the removal of a number of occupations from the short supply list watched by international job seekers, including accountants, solicitors, urban planners and occupational health and safety advisers.

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