Skilled migration program a success

It wasn’t so long ago that Australia was suffering not just a skills shortage, but a labour shortage.

Overseas doctorsIn Western Australia and Queensland especially, any sane person with two arms, two legs and a grasp of English could be guaranteed work if they wanted it.

Then came the global economic crisis and unemployment began to rise.

Before that happened, there were calls to bring in unskilled migrants from Asia to work on mining projects in the outback.

Sensibly, that never occurred and the focus was retained on managing a sustainable program of skilled migration.

Australia has been fortunate to have enjoyed a bipartisan approach to general migration (illegal migrants and detention excluded) for most of the past few decades since Labor abandoned the White Australia Policy.

There is rightly a focus on attracting people who bring skills that meet an unsatisfied demand.

Most regional areas would be even worse off for medical care than they are currently if it weren’t for foreign doctors being encouraged to settle here.

The Federal Government yesterday proclaimed a 60pc increase in the number of employer-sponsored skilled migrants who came to Australia in 2008-09 compared with the previous year.

The Report on Migration Program 2008-09 confirms the benefit of targeted approach to filling critical skills gaps in the healthcare, engineering, financial services and IT sectors.

Overseas workers who were sponsored by employers comprised 33pc of the 2008-09 skill stream compared to 22pc in 2007-08 and 17pc in 2006-07.

Skilled migration is something the government has got right.