Posted on January 31, 2007

Skilled Migration To Australia At Record Levels (London), Jan. 30, 2007

Australia’s aggressive program to recruit skilled immigrants and migrant workers to the country is paying off in a big way. Despite increased global competition for skilled workers, the country has approximately doubled the number of immigrant builders and engineers compared to the previous year

The Department of Immigration released it’s annual publication this week, Population Flows: Immigration Aspects, 2007 edition, in which it details statistics for the 2005-2006 year ending in June 2006. The Australian Government’s Migration Programme is running at record levels for incoming skilled workers.

The Migration Programme brought in 142,930 foreign-born persons, the largest since the late 1980s, with a record 97,340 new places into the skill stream, accounting for 68% of the total Migration Programme. The family stream accounted for 45,290, an increase of 8.5% over the previous year.

Last year, employer sponsored and state/territory government sponsored migration increased by 17% and 47% respectively compared to the 2004-05 statistic year.

The number of skilled engineers and builders immigrating to Australia nearly doubled under a boom in the construction industry in states like Western Australia. Increased demand for building and engineering professionals brought in 2,684 new workers in that area alone, up from 1,420 for 2004-2005.

A continued rise in exports of natural resources to meet Chinese and other Asian economic demand which has resulted in an increased demand for engineers with mining specializations.

The top occupational group of new migrants to Australia continues to be computing professionals, with 3,940 emigrating last year. There has also been high levels of immigration into Australia by Accountants (3,471 persons) and elementary clerical, sales and service workers follow (2,905 persons).

For comparison, just ten years ago new skilled arrivals comprised less than one-third of new residents.

Overseas workers looking for full-time employment have seen improved prospects recently; unemployment rates among people born in mainly English speaking countries such as the United Kingdom and Ireland are currently at record lows of about 3.5%.

Military options

Interested immigrants should also note that Australia’s skill shortages are not just confined to civilian life. The Australian defense forces are looking overseas to help fill thousands of vacancies. Earlier this month, the Royal Australian Navy posted 696 technical trades vacancies, the Army 362 vacancies and the Royal Australian Air Force 457 technician vacancies.

Foreign nationals are not restricted from joining the Australian armed forces, but they must meet the normal entry requirements and the skilled visa requirements. These include passing a character test and medical checks. Persons must also obtain national security clearance and become Australian citizens at the first opportunity.

The United States offers similar opportunities for immigrants joining its armed forces, too. Enlisting in the U.S. military makes foreign-born persons eligible for citizenship almost instantly, if they meet the enlistment and immigration requirements. Clearly, a security check is required, also.

An Australian defense spokeswoman was quoted as follows “Foreign nationals may join the ADF [Australian Defence Force] in competition with other suitable applicants irrespective of previous military service.”

“They must meet Australian immigration and permanent residency requirements as well as the normal ADF entry standards.”

“Overseas applications from foreign nationals with extensive military experience will be considered for positions where skill shortages exist in the ADF. Overseas recruitment is designed to supplement, but not replace, Australian domestic recruiting efforts.”

To be eligible to be sponsored for a job holding an officers rank in the Royal Australian Navy, an overseas candidate must possess a qualification equivalent to an Australian bachelor degree, or higher level qualification, that requires a minimum of three years full-time study in an appropriate discipline. A minimum of three years experience in the position for which the applicant is applying is also required, similar to the Air Force and Army.