Attempts to attract more overseas workers to Western Australia not working, it is claimed

by Ray Clancy on November 17, 2011

in Australia Immigration

Overseas workers prefer Melbourne and Sydney to Western Australia

Changes to Australia’s migration programme aimed at attracting more skilled workers to the west of the country where they are needed most is not working, according to academics.

Businesses in Western Australia are facing severe shortages of skilled workers caused by the mining boom but overseas workers prefer to go to Melbourne and Sydney, according to Dr Bob Birrell, head of Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research. And these popular cities are where there are fewer jobs.

Victoria got 53,200 permanent migrants in 2010/11, up 3,000 on the previous year, while the number in New South Wales increased by 4,300 to 65,700, figures from the Immigration Department show. Yet in Western Australia, which is crying out for more workers, migrant numbers actually fell by more than 1,000 to 34,200.

Victoria’s share of the national intake grew from 24% to 25%, NSW’s share rose from 29% to 31% but WA’s fell from 17% to 16% cent. WA’s jobless rate is 4.2% compared with 5.3% in Victoria.

‘Despite changes and priorities to put greater weight on employer nominated migrants, the programme is still delivering people in large numbers to places we don’t really need them,’ said Birrell. He added that the migrant intake was still being largely driven by the demand from family and humanitarian visa applicants.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout said she was not surprised by the latest migration data.

‘Melbourne and Sydney have always been first bases or entry points for migrants,’ she said.

‘The government has put more emphasis on employer sponsorship but any employer, no matter where they are in the country, can sponsor a migrant,’ said Birrell.

One of the problems is that there is no priority given to locations where there’s a stronger case for allowing employers to sponsor migrants, according to Birrell.

‘It’s had very little effect in changing the overall pattern of settlement of permanent residents. If they were really serious about this they would be filtering this to ensure that they’re in locations and occupations which are really scarce,’ he explained.

About 85% of people who were granted employer sponsored permanent residency were already living in Australia, Birrell said. In many cases their skills were not in short supply in the location they wanted to live but they were allowed to stay because they were backed by an employer after building up a relationship.

For example, there were numerous accountants and IT workers gaining residency in Melbourne and Sydney despite there being Australians capable of filling the roles. Such cases used up the national quota without taking into account needs in areas such as WA.

‘Employer nominations come first but they don’t differentiate by the state or how crucial the occupation is, so we’ve got a very large programme which is causing a lot of problems in Melbourne and Sydney when WA is crying out for migrants,’ Birrell explained.

‘There’s plenty of scope to better target the migration program to the occupations and locations where you can actually make a strong case that they’re needed. If WA employers don’t sponsor for one reason or another then that’s a good case to reduce the overall size of the programme,’ he added.

WA’s state government estimates new resource and infrastructure projects will create almost 240,000 new jobs by 2017 but that natural population growth and present migration levels will leave a shortage of 150,000 skilled workers.

Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA forecasts the state will need 500,000 more skilled workers by 2020.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

tan sue Ching July 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

i had just graduated, possessing a Law degree (LLB)

I am interested to work as a beginner in any firm that need assist. i m willing to relocate from Malaysia to Perth central city, WA. i am willing to apply in accordance to yr country requirement.

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