Regional Australia has experienced a boom in recent times. An increased demand in Asia for natural resources has seen a marked rise in commercial activity. Mineral ore such as copper and iron is in high demand, as are energy resources such as coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG).
On top of that, government estimates predict an escalation in tourism rates for Australia’s regional areas - an increase that could generate as many as 150,000 jobs over the next decade.
But for all its resources and tourism potential, Australia’s meagre population of 22 million might not be up to the task. Government estimates have predicted that as many as 70,000 skilled migrant workers may be needed to fully meet the projected demands to complete planned projects.
This view was echoed by Australian mining mogul Gina Rinehart, who suggested that a solution to the current skilled worker shortage may lie in recruiting more international “guest workers”.
The Department for Immigration and Citizenship already offers skilled migration programs and visas - including the temporary 457 visa. This allows employers to sponsor skilled migrant workers to work in Australia if the local population lacks the required skill sets.
However, the temporary 457 visa does not cover a large range of semi-skilled occupations. It also requires a substantial amount of negotiation between individual employers and government departments.
These issues have been the catalyst for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s latest announcement - the Regional Migration Agreement.
RMAs are not a new type of visa. They are geographically targeted agreements designed to reconcile the needs and requirements of regional communities, business, local councils, employers and unions. These agreements are custom designed to address the needs of these regional areas and assist in identifying the skills of the workers required.
With an RMA in place, regional employers would be able to sponsor skilled and semi-skilled migrant workers for a greater variety of roles via a streamlined system of labour agreements - saving time and money in the process.
Negotiations for RMAs are expected to begin early in 2012.
If you are looking at immigrating to Australia or are interested in sponsoring skilled migrant workers, getting the right information can be invaluable in securing a successful outcome.
An accredited immigration lawyer can help by ensuring you meet all the prerequisites before starting an application and keep you updated with reliable feedback on your petitions progress.