Australia has shown remarkable economic growth in the past 27 years, raising standards of living and showing resilience to economic shocks experienced around the globe. Australia’s economy and labour market have been resilient, with rising employment and labour-force participation. Solid economic management and adjustments made during the past three decades has strengthened Australia’s standing in terms of GDP per capita. Ranking the first amongst OECD countries with a life expectancy of 82.5 years, Australia scores particularly well in health status. The OECD’s central projection envisages output growth in 2018 and 2019 of around 3%The economy is in upswing, with growth above potential. Immigration has played a significant role in the Australian economic and social cultural aspects, and the trend will continue to the future.
Since 2011, Australia has been accepting approximately 190,000 migrants. This will comprise all categories such as skilled, family and humanitarian visas. The immigration quota does not include students, visitor and other temporary visas. The annual quota of 190,000, showed a down turn and the intake was observed lowest in the year 2017-2018 as it resulted 163,000 PR intakes only. There are speculations about the reduction and the stakeholders are eager to know if the trend will continue. However, given the economic projection about Australia’s future, it is a question in hand the long term impact of reducing the current migration quotas. There is no doubt that the incoming migrants have contributed to the steady economic growth that Australia has experienced in the past two decades. Out of 190,000 places available, over 65 percent is allocated to skilled visas. In recent years, the Australian unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent. Therefore, one could argue that more skilled professionals will be needed to cater the ongoing economic demand.
The argument behind the reasons for reduction of the migration intake draws to the fact of most people opting to settle in over crowed cities such as Sydney. There is a push to “go regional”. In actual fact, there is genuine demand for skilled professionals in regional Australia. Depending on the State and the region, the categories of job availability will differ as well. Across all regions there are openings for trades workers and medical professionals. To address the skills shortages in the regions, State/Territory governments in Australia, has been sponsoring skilled migrants for almost two decades. It is evident that some regions have had tremendous success in attracting skilled migrants, while few state governments may require programs to sustain the intake and provide adequate support to retain them in the sponsored state.
State/ Territory sponsorships
Migration program has shown changes overtime, from a family stream to a skilled stream. It is likely that the trend will remain the same. State/Territory governments have been instrumental in catering the Australian economic demand by being a part of the skilled migration program. All State/Territory governments take part in the program, offering permanent visa sponsorships and provisional visa sponsorships. Regional governments often sponsor applicants on provisional basis, providing the opportunity to live and work in the regions. Migrants who come under the regional sponsored scheme (subclass 489), will qualify to obtain permanent residency upon completing two years of residency in a regional area and working for 12 months in a skilled occupation. It is believed through this particular criterion imposed as s prerequisite for permanent residency, skilled migrants will continue to provide their services to the regions. It is said that the state migration plans at times may not address the skills shortage issues adequately, and there are ongoing gaps between the supply of skills and the actual demand. To address this issue, it is essential that the existing polices to be reviewed both at State/Territory and federal level.
Migration is an important part of Australian life, both economically and socially. As Australia continues to grow and prosper, it is inevitable more people will be needed to sustain and cater the growing demands. Therefore, the policies in place must change to address the existing demand and most importantly to address the future needs of Australia. It is projected that the government policies are expected to change to encourage skilled professionals to settle in the regions. If adequate job opportunities are available, settling in regional areas can be better than cramming into the major cities that are already overcrowded and unaffordable. More so, the competition in the major cities is high compared to the regions and it could take time for the overseas skilled professionals to secure appropriate employment. If going regional is to become successful and attractive as a program, an approach that is appealing to overseas professionals will be required. Often, the regions are considered to be remote areas by the potential migrants, where there is no access to proper services. This is far from the truth in case of Australia, where the terminology regional is often used to describe low population growth areas. Potential migrants must be given proper information about the concept of “regional” and the regional governments must come forward by promoting the opportunities available in their regions. By attracting migration to the areas that has actual skills shortages not only will migrants benefit by securing employment opportunities soon they arrive, but also, Australia will benefit in the long run by equal distribution of population and wealth. Potential applicants must keep a close eye to both State/Territory and regional opportunities available. To be able to secure a State/ Territory sponsorship, an applicant’s skills must be assessed by a designated authority in Australia. In addition, applicants will need to demonstrate their English language skills by taking a test prescribed for migration. Regional and State government sponsorships is predicted to be an aspect that will play a significant role in the of future of Australian migration.
Sources: 2018 ECONOMIC SURVEY OF AUSTRALIA
Author : Surani Punchihewa