Lita Mahle MARN 9250408
The Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, has slashed by half the list of 400 occupations replacing them with 180 ”highly valued occupations”.
Still on the list are medical professionals including nurses, teachers, engineers, dentists, as well as surgeons, osteopaths, IT professionals and welders. But off the list from July will be dance instructors, acupuncturists, journalists and naturopaths, piano tuners and – significantly – hairdressers and cooks.
”In 2007-08 … of the 41,000 general skilled visas granted, more than 5000 went to hairdressers and cooks,” Senator Evans said. ”…Three-quarters of them had studied in Australia. He said the new list, developed by Skills Australia, would ensure the skilled migration program was demand-driven rather than supply-driven. Skills Australia was set up in 2008 with the purpose of identifying skills shortages. It will update the list annually.
”We value the international education sector. Its students will still be able to apply for permanent migration … but we will no longer almost automatically accept the thousands of cooks and hairdressers who applied under the guidelines established by the Howard government.”
“This is about making sure the people who come in on the migration programme have the skills we need, have the English levels we need and can get a job in that skilled area.” If hospitals are crying out for nurses, they should have priority over 12,000 unsponsored cooks …”
Senator Evans said students already in Australia intending to apply for permanent residence could take advantage of transition provisions announced in February 2010.
A report released this May by the economic consultancy BIS Shrapnel finds that population growth is set to slow sharply in response to lower foreign student numbers and a drop in the number of sponsored applicants for short-term work visas.
The catering and restaurant industry has hit back at new rules published this week halving the number of skilled migrant places available for chefs and cooks.
Some restaurants would go out of business and others be forced to shorten their trading hours without migrant labour, according to Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart. ”It’s a nonsense,” he said. ”Despite every tourism minister in every state calling for chefs to be left on, they took them off. It seems absurd.”
He said the industry was already 3000 cooks short before the federal government halved the number of places for which independent skilled migrants could apply.
An Australian Industry Group survey also this month finds 75 per cent of employers are dissatisfied with the skills of their Australian-trained workers, with 45 per cent believing their labourers have low literacy and numeracy skills and 25 per cent believe their apprentices have low skills.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the list struck a balance between the immediate and long-term skills needs of the country. Private educators, however, predicted more college closures, thousands of job losses and a flight of international students to other countries.
Chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, Andrew Smith, said international students had been given inadequate advice.
”Students invested tens of thousands of dollars on the basis of a clear government policy. It’s unfair to them that the rules have changed during their courses.”
The new SOL will take effect on the 1 July 2010.
To view the new SOL, log onhttp://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/whats-new.htm#o