Australia invites skilled workers from India

Australian Consul-General for South India David Holly.

The country would undertake the biggest-ever skilled migration programme from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012, Peter Speldewinde, Assistant Secretary, Labour Market Branch, Department of Immigration and Citizenship, told reporters here on Thursday.
Consequently, 1,25,850 workers would be taken in over the next one year, 16,300 more than in 2010-11.

Of the 125,850 jobs, 46,000 would go for employer sponsored; 44,500 for skilled independent; 24,000 for state-sponsored migration workers; 7,200 for highly-skilled business workers; and 4,050 for family sponsors.

Acknowledging the loopholes in its previous migration programme, Speldewinde said that the country’s requirements of skilled workers were not being adequately met.

“The age limit – below 45 years – was the biggest hurdle. We found that older workers were doing better as employers looked for relevant working experience. Besides, people with proficiency in English had great scope,” Speldewinde added. Hence, the Australian Government was likely to raise the age limit to 50 years. In addition, norms on permanent residence would be eased.

Expression of Interest

The programme will be based on an online Expression of Interest (EoI) model. Prospective applicants will have to register their interest in applying for a skilled visa. They should provide basic biographical and other information such as oc cupation, details of work experience, and the level of proficiency in English.

Applicants can express their interest in independent, family sponsored and/or state/territory sponsored skilled migration, besides indicating whether they want a temporary or permanent visa. The programme, Spelde­winde reiterated, would not discriminate against migrants from any specific country, although India had been consistently among the top three high sources of overseas workers.

Once an applicant lodges an EoI, they are ranked according to points test score in which they can claim points under a range of different factors. Employers then search the database of applicants and contact them directly. Later, invitations are issued automatically. As the last step, invitees have to lodge visa applications.

David Holly, Consul-General for South India, Chennai, said that the migration programme was aimed at providing scope for a moderate and sustainable increase in skilled migrants – between 1.7 lakh to 1.8 lakh – over the next few years.

For the time, the Australian Government would specifically allocate permanent visas for the country’s regional areas, Holly added. Overseas workers would be paid the same salary as that of their Australian counterparts. Strong penalty would be imposed on violating employers. Another important reform in the skilled labour programme would be the recognition of Indian degrees by Australia.

Racist attacks

Both Holly and Speldewinde reiterated that the recent attacks on Indian students Down Under would have no effect on the new migration programme. Tania Wilson, Counsellor (Immigration), Australian High Commission, New Delhi, said that they were receiving 250 student applications from India per week in 2011, up from 70 the corresponding period last year. The fall was, however, only in new enrolments, she added.

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