Skilled migration addresses Three Ps

Date: May 29, 2012

Skilled migration in Australia is a crucial way to address the so-called Three Ps that have long been a staple of our nation's culture - participation, population and productivity.

This was the message underscored by immigration minister Chris Bowen in a speech delivered to the National Press Club on May 25.

He asserted that while Australia's earliest immigration policies - which date back to 1945 and the creation of the world's first Department of Immigration - had a key role to play in boosting the number of people who call our country home, modern migration reform has a broader economic objective.

"Our economic growth and ongoing prosperity is still very much tied up with immigration," he explained.

Bowen added that the current focus is centred on skilled migration, which is designed to fill specific employment shortages across Australia.

When done successfully, he explained, skilled migration can actually create jobs for local Australians too.

Naming the resources sector as a prime example, he explained that bringing in skilled labour from overseas can help mining companies achieve results in time and on-budget - benefiting the nation as a whole.

And with business investment into Australia's resources sector set to reach a record total of $120 billion over the next year - and the proportion of business investment as an overall component of Australia's gross domestic product at an all-time high - the argument for skilled migration has never been stronger.

Bowen explained: "Without migration, growth in Australia's labour force is predicted to stall by 2036 and then it will start shrinking."

Skilled migrants, he added, are required in all Australian states and territories. In fact Western Australia - which recently overtook Victoria as the second-largest participant in the 457 visa program - could become the largest user of the 457 scheme in the 2012-13 financial year.

Engineers - particularly those with a background in mechanical or civil engineering - as well as geologists are the most popular 457 occupations, he explained, adding that it's no coincidence these are also skills frequently cited as the most in-demand.

Employers who have never sponsored a worker on a 457 visa before must first become an approved sponsor before they can nominate individuals to fill specific positions.

A skilled migration lawyer can be instrumental in ensuring this process goes to plan - and can also provide useful guidance and recommendations about the likely success of an application before the process goes ahead.