Skilled visa programme in Australia not needed, new research claims

by Ray Clancy on April 24, 2018

in Jobs in Australia

(Langstrup Photography/

Claims from top officials in Australia, including the Treasury, that a major cut to the number of skilled visas being granted would jeopardise 26 years of unbroken economic growth have been rubbished by a new report.

In particular the report from the Australian Population Research Institute at Monash University says that claims by the Government that the permanent entry skills visa programme is helping fill skilled jobs that Australians cannot is not valid.

The report, written by APRI president Bob Birrell, argues that the current skilled visa programme does not do what it claims in terms of providing employers with skilled workers for positions that they cannot fill and he says it is not needed.

Using recent unpublished data on what jobs those granted skilled visas end up doing, the report says that while the majority of those with visas are professionals and increasing number have jobs that are oversupplied.

It also suggests that in some occupations where there are shortages, such as construction, the skilled visa programme is not delivering despite housing industry claims that continued skilled migration is crucial to supplying the workers needed to provide the housing and infrastructure to accommodate Australia’s booming population.

‘You might think that a skill programme directed at recruiting scarce skills would prioritise the relevant occupations. That is not the case,’ the report claims. It says that when the Skills Occupation List (SOL) was introduced in 2010 it was supposed to make selection conditional on the applicant’s occupation being in national shortage but this was gradually reduced and finally abolished in 2016.

Now the SOL has been replaced by a Medium to Long Term Strategic Skill List (MLTSSL). ‘This makes selection conditional on whether an occupation might be needed in two to 10 years’ time. The MLTSSL includes numerous professions that the Government’s own Department of Employment has judged to be oversupplied, including accounting and engineering,’ said Birrell.

‘As a consequence, most recently arrived skilled migrants cannot find professional jobs,’ he pointed out, saying that this is based on new findings from the 2016 Census on the employment situation of skilled migrants who arrived in Australian over the years 2011 to 2016.

Some 256,504 people born overseas aged 25 to 34 who held degree or above level qualifications at the time of the Census arrived in Australia over these years The vast majority, 84%, came from non-English speaking countries and only 24% of them were employed as professionals as of 2016, compared with 50% of those from English speaking countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates.

‘Australia is awash with graduates as a consequence of past migration and growth in domestic university completions,’ Birrell pointed out, adding that by 2017 some 38.5% of Australian residents aged 25 to 29 held degree level qualifications and 40.3% of those aged 30 to 34 which he said is high by international standards.

‘The recent surge in undergraduate commencements, particularly in the STEM disciplines, means that this trend will continue. These findings mean that it is unlikely Australia will need any augmentation of its stock of professionals from migrant sources,’ Birrell said.

‘The Skill Stream programme is deeply flawed. They go far deeper than the absence of any mechanism to select skills in short supply. For instance, the large State Sponsorship Category gives states the rights to sponsor skilled migrants but allows them to settle wherever they wish in Australia,’ he explained.

‘The programme is not needed. Australia’s employers would hardly notice if it was abolished. The skill programme and its claims to be providing essential skills, is acting as a screen for its real purpose. This is to deliver the continued high population growth Australia’s elites want,’ he added.

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