WA needs more permanent immigration: Evans
July 17, 2008
Federal immigration minister Chris Evans has called for West Australian employers to make more use of the permanent migration scheme rather than rely on temporary workers to help plug labour shortages.
Senator Evans said the skills and labour situation in WA was made worse by the mining boom “sucking” people out of occupations which did not traditionally suffer from worker shortages.
“The reality is that the mining boom is sucking people out of occupations where we traditionally haven't been short supplied and the flow on effect to other industries is where the shortages have been found,” Senator Evans said.
“We have to be able to meet those needs as well as the needs of the mining industry.”
The present permanent migration scheme has been criticised for being inflexible and that the list of occupations on the list too limited.
Employers found the scheme slow and cumbersome to navigate, and it needed to be amended to have more capacity to respond to their needs.
They were predominantly using the 457 temporary skilled immigration scheme where employers sponsor temporary work visas for migrants.
The 457 scheme was mainly being utilised becasue it was quicker than the permanent migration scheme, Senator Evans said.
“I want to see more employers sponsoring these workers as permanent skilled migrants, taking advantage of the (permanent migration) program, rather than just bringing them in through the 457 scheme.”
He hoped to expand the list of skilled migration to include highly-skilled technology workers and community welfare specialists.
Provisions had yet to be made for unskilled or semi-skilled migrants.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry senior economist Nathan Taylor said Perth needed to position itself as a regional Asia-Pacific centre to attract migrants.
WA also needed to attract and retain younger people who made the state more vibrant, thus ensuring others would come to the state.