Business leaders in Western Australia want a more flexible visa system

by Ray Clancy on October 12, 2016

in Jobs in Australia

Businesses in Western Australia want to be able to employ more skilled workers from overseas where there is a skills shortage but say the current visa system is too rigid.

In particular the country’s immigration policy is not responsive enough to the needs of business, according to a group of industry experts attending a roundtable event at Curtin University.

skilled-jobsBusiness leaders want industry to invest in education and training for migrant workers where they are needed to fill job vacancies, helping to create an environment for overseas workers to thrive, the meeting heard.

They believe that the skilled migrant list is not flexible enough. For example, bricklayers are on the list yet the region is currently going through a construction slump. The same applies to plasterers, tilers, and electricians.

The skills list, which is released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), could be better organised, according to Curtin Business School research fellow Roslyn Cameron.

Dr Cameron used the department’s data in her BankWest Curtin Economic Centre report on minimising skills wastage and maximising the wellbeing of skilled migrants to Western Australia and believes that more could be done to support skilled migrants who arrive under their own steam without employer sponsorship.

‘They are the people who are on the skilled occupation list, they want to get to Australia, they have the skills but not a lot of safety nets when they get here,’ she pointed out, adding that these workers often plug skills shortages in regional Western Australia.

A recent Department of Training survey of 117 migrants who came to the State under the skilled priority list showed only 35% were actually employed in the job they came to do, however, the department’s director of service delivery operations Jodie Wallace, said it was nearly impossible to regulate the skilled migration system.

She explained that a lot of independent skilled migrants arrive via the DIBP and the system means that individual States have little or no control over which skilled migrants actually arrive in the State.

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