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This month Migration Solutions took part in the co-signing of a joint submission to the Federal Skilled Migration and series 400 visa review – an assessment which the Department says will set the direction of the programme for the next 20 years. Consequently, Migration Solutions put forward the proposal of a joint initiative to help secure improved immigration outcomes to South Australia and address skill shortages for employers across the State.
The most frustrating aspect of the current policy here in South Australia is undoubtedly to do with the composition of occupations included on the Skilled Occupations List and crazy eligibility criteria.
For too long the South Australian Government’s list of occupations in demand which makes up the composition of the State Nominated Occupations List have been out of touch with demand. What is the point of having occupations such as Shoemaker, Make Up Artists, Musical Instrument Maker or Repairers, or Sound Technicians on the list where other occupations such as Speech Pathologist is not and is only available to international students who have studied in South Australia or via chain migration. Sound confusing – believe me it is.
The problem with Australia’s and South Australia’s migration programs is that they are inherently over complicated, however, this doesn’t need to be the case. I am hopeful that the biggest review of the skilled migration program over the past 20 years and one which will set the framework for the next 20 years of skilled migration to Australia will be based on demand, rather than based on historical data and advertised vacancies.
Identifying occupations that are in demand today and those which will be in demand into the future is not difficult, you just need to speak to the people who know, that being the relevant industry bodies.
Today I searched seek.com to see how many jobs are currently being advertised online for a range of occupations on the State Government list. Of the 12 that I researched that appear on the main state nomination list, 11 had no jobs advertised, while there was only one job advertised for a naturopath. This means that if someone arrived in Adelaide today after being nominated by the State Government it is highly unlikely that they would find a job in their occupation or at all. One occupation that I searched which appears on the graduate list had 3 jobs listed and I found a further 4 job vacancies on the South Australian Government employment website – this was for a speech pathologist.
The occupations I searched were as follows:
Shoemaker x 0
Make Up Artist x 0
Musical Instrument Maker or Repairer x 0
Sound Technician x 0
Wool Classer x 0
School Principal x 0
Sports Administrator x 0
Naturopath x 1
Book or Script Editor x 0
Gallery or Museum Curator x 0
Meat Inspector x 0
Quarantine Officer x 0
Speech Pathologist x 3 (not on standard state nomination list)
If we were to speak with all of the relevant industry groups or bodies in South Australia they can tell us exactly what the demographic of their workforce is. How many people are entering and exiting the industry? Where there are more people leaving the workforce than entering, that will create a gap or shortage. A shortage can also be affected by increased demand within an industry. If SA was also to increase our population from about half the national average to a level approaching this figure, this would also create many new jobs across our broader economy in a range of areas such as construction, health, hospitality, automotive, farming and production, retail and throughout the entire supply chain. Not only would this increase in population create jobs and training opportunities for our local population, it would create a range of jobs that could be filled by the migrants that we are seeking to attract and retain in our state.
I see very little value in trying to attract skilled migrants to our state and then once they arrive they are only to find out that there are no jobs. We need to create a structured migration program with a list of occupations for state nomination that reflects what industry is saying. Industry knows what industry needs and when they are needed.
Skilled migration which creates enormous economic benefits is not hard or difficult, we just need to keep it simple. If we as a state can get a structured economic migration program in place which meets existing and future demand we have a tremendous opportunity to grow jobs and economic prosperity in our state which will create flow on benefits for generations and generations to come. Continue to get it wrong such as we are doing now and the future looks bleak.