The Modl List (otherwise known as the Migration Occupations in Demand List) has been central to the Australian skilled workers immigration system for many years although this changed in February 2010, which we will cover below. So what exactly is the purpose of the Modl List and how will the modifications announced in February 2010 affect future applications?

The Australian skilled workers immigration program

At the heart of the Migration Occupations in Demand List is the need to ensure that the Australian economy has its fair share of skilled workers across a whole host of employment sectors. There is no doubt that the fairly lax immigration policy of the Australian government has assisted overseas workers and those who have skills which are in short supply are, or had been, able to fast-track the immigration system to the benefit of themselves and their future employers.

Even though some of Australia's largest cities now have an overseas population of up to 35% there is no doubt they have been vital to the ongoing growth of the Australian economy. Even so there are concerns in some quarters that this ongoing influx of skilled workers has impacted upon the ability of the Australian domestic workforce to gain similar positions. However, while there is no doubt that skilled overseas workers are demanding large salaries in exchange for their skills and experience, these skills and experience will in due course be passed on to the Australian domestic workforce. This may be taking longer than many had hoped but it will eventually kick in and the number of skilled overseas workers required should start to fall.

What is the Migration Occupations in Demand List?

In simple terms the Modl list is a detailed analysis of occupations and specialist workers required to meet various shortfalls in the Australian domestic workforce. The list itself was, prior to February 2010, drawn up by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and was a list which was adjusted and amended on an ongoing basis. The list itself had been in place for many years and proven to be very popular and very beneficial to those companies who had struggled to find specialist skills amongst the Australian domestic workforce.

The Migration Occupations in Demand List is in effect a points-based system which awards immigration points to those who qualify due to their specialist skills and experience.

Recent changes to the Modl list

As concerns continue to grow regarding the number of skilled workers moving to Australia to fill various experience and specialist gaps in the marketplace there has been enormous pressure placed on the government to change the system. As a consequence as of 8 February 2010 the Modl list is no more, for new applicants at least, with all occupations now withdrawn from public viewing. However, there is still the potential to gain immigration points for those who had applied for work in Australia prior to the cutoff date of 8 February 2010.

Who is eligible for immigration points after the cutoff point?

The government of Australia has declared that those who either :-

Hold or had applied for a subclass 485 (skilled-graduate) visa and have yet to apply for a permanent or provision of general skilled migration visa can still obtain points from the Modl list


Those who had a general skilled migration visa application pending as at the 8 February 2010 will also be able to receive Modl points

However, general skilled migration visa applications must be submitted by 31 December 2012 at the latest. After this cutoff point there will be no Modl points awarded and the system will effectively close down and disappear from everyday life in Australia.

What occupations were covered in the Migration Occupations in Demand List?

As at the time when the list was suspended there were literally hundreds of different occupations crying out for skilled workers from overseas. These included everything from surgeons to dental technicians, from accountants to chemical engineers, from computing professionals to architects and almost any other skilled employment position you can think of. The points awarded depend upon the position of the applicant and the demand for the occupations detailed on the Modl list.

Some people believe that the list will reappear at some point in the future but there are many who feel that the Modl has passed its sell by date and the system is in need of a complete overhaul.

How would you qualify for Modl listed employment positions?

In simple terms the position of each and every applicant for an Modl would be considered by the relevant Australian assessing body who would look for confirmation of experience, general English language skills and there would also be consideration given to the person's general health. In simple terms, if the experience is there, the skills are there and the person in question is of fit mind and body then it is likely they would stand a good chance of obtaining the relevant points which would improve their chances of obtaining a working visa for Australia.

There are many ways in which applicants can increase their point score, one of which is to have an actual employment position in place before they move to Australia. This will help fast-track the immigration application and ensure that both the employee and employer are brought together as soon as possible, to the general benefit of the Australian economy.

How will the system work in the future?

In simple terms the Australian government has given in to significant criticism of the old system which many believe was open to potential abuse in many ways. There is also concern about the impact this is having upon the Australian domestic workforce, many of which are being priced out of local property markets because of the influx of skilled overseas workers. The truth is that finding a balance between excessive skilled workers entering Australia and alienating the Australian domestic workforce is very difficult.

Despite the fact that the Australian economy has grown substantially over the last 20 years or so, much of this growth has been assisted by skilled overseas workers who have taken advantage of the situation. There is a time and there is a place for the general skilled migration program even if many unions and some employees in Australia may believe otherwise.

The growth of the Australian economy

When you consider that the Australian population has quadrupled in less than 100 years, due in the main to immigration, it is easy to see why so many skilled foreign workers have been in such demand. The growth in the Australian economy is now under control and indeed many people believe that Australia has one of the strongest economies in the world at this moment in time. It is easy to be shortsighted with regards to general skilled migration but ultimately any skills which are brought into the country will at some stage be transferred to the local population.

It is also worth mentioning that there has been massive investment by the authorities into the education system which has resulted in a significant increase in the quality of education and the number of qualifications gained. This in itself has caused further problems with more and more overseas students arriving in Australia, many of whom are staying on and gaining employment in the country.

The growth of the Australian population

As we touched on above, the Migration Occupations in Demand List has proven to be invaluable for many employers over the years who have found various skills and various experienced workers difficult to find. The immigration system has allowed them to effectively fast-track traditional paperwork and entry routes, allowing those who can offer something to the Australian economy and Australian businesses a shortcut into the country.

However, one point of concern for some people is the fact that those moving to Australia under the skilled workers program have very often been able to obtain permanent residency in Australia as a reward for their assistance. When you consider that the Australian population has quadrupled over the last 100 years we can only imagine how many immigrants are now living in Australia. Some experts suggest that up to 35% of some populations of the larger cities in Australia consist of people originally from other countries. These are enormous figures when you consider the millions of people who live in some of Australia's larger cities.

The future of the Australian population

It is difficult to comprehend the massive change in the mix of ethnic minorities within Australia and the diluting of the traditional Australian culture. In many ways this is a price which the government has had to pay in order to bring in much-needed skills and experience to ensure that the Australian economy was able to grow at a controllable pace. While there is no indication that the authorities are looking to close the door to Australia for new immigrants there is no doubt that as time goes by we will see a balancing of the influx of immigrants against the needs of the domestic Australian population.

The pay gap between skilled workers and traditional Australian workers

One of the main areas of concern for many employees and many unions has been the growing demand for skilled workers, which has in many areas pushed up remuneration packages to levels not available to the traditional Australian worker. This in itself has caused friction between the two parties but this has become worse over the last few years with skilled workers pushing the price of property higher in and around some of the larger cities of Australia, often to levels which are unreachable for the average Australian worker.

This increase in the value of property in some of the more popular cities of Australia continues to this day with cities such as Sydney and Melbourne now ranked amongst those with the highest cost of living in the world. Even though this high cost of living is in many ways supported by the high incomes available in Sydney and Melbourne, this new found wealth in Australia does not seem to be spread out equally amongst the workforce. In time we should see the difference between traditional Australian worker salaries and overseas skilled worker salaries reduce but there is no definitive timescale on this particular issue.

The multicultural population of Australia

As we touched on above, due in the main to the influx of skilled workers from all around the world
the Australian population is now more culturally diverse than any other population in the world. This has created various pockets of expats from certain parts of the world, who continue to attract yet more expats from their former homelands. The variety of food, entertainment, religion and other everyday aspects of life in Australia are there for all to see.


Many believe that the Modl List was past its sell by date when the government decided to close down this particular option in February 2010. It is a system which worked well for many years and allowed companies across Australia, and local authorities, to gain access to overseas skilled workers at very short notice. In the early days of the Australian economic boom the service proved vital and even to this day is still much sought after by those in specific areas of the Australian economy.

However, the government has now decided to change the system and we await further details of a new skilled workers program which will both fit in with the Australian economy and the Australian domestic workforce. There are even rumours that the general skilled migration program itself may undergo a significant revamp in the short to medium term as the government looks to marry up the needs and requirements of both parties involved. When this will happen, what form this will take and the impact upon the Australian economy and Australian workforce remains to be seen but changes are afoot and the government is well aware of underlying concerns from Australian nationals.

After a period of massive immigration into Australia it looks as though the authorities may be considering partly closing the entry door, at least in the short to medium term.