Regional focus for foreign worker visas

An overhaul of the list of jobs Australia needs migrants to help fill will aim to get more locals into apprenticeships and more immigrants into regional areas.

The Morrison government has started its regular review of the skilled migration occupation list and wants to hear from people in regional areas in particular about what job vacancies they can’t fill.

The fresh look at the list of jobs people can get temporary visas for builds on a separate review announced last week to examine which trades have the worst skills shortages.

“Skilled migration has always been a part of this country’s prosperity, but we need to ensure we are getting the right skilled migrants filling the skills shortages,” Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash said on Wednesday.

“We have heard from stakeholders who have identified a growing need in some sectors for skilled workers.”

The top areas for employed foreign workers in 2018/19 were in the IT sector, and for university lecturers, management roles, chefs and doctors, figures from the employment department show.

While there is a separate occupations list for regional areas, details of those employed in the regions were not made available.

The number of skilled visas in recent years has been around 85,000, but this dropped significantly in 2017/18 to 64,500, before rebounding last financial year.

Immigration Minister David Coleman said the government had a special focus on skills shortages in regional areas across its whole migration program and would continue to make sure businesses could get the workers they needed to grow.

“We’ve allocated 23,000 regional migration places, introduced two new regional visas and signed designated area migration agreements around the country to attract migrants to the regions, help towns grow and to fill some of the 60,000 job vacancies in regional Australia,” he said.

An updated skilled migration occupation list will be published in March 2020.

The existing lists make about 500 occupations eligible for temporary skilled visas and 673 jobs eligible for the regional sponsored migration scheme.


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