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Better planning to reduce reliance on skilled migrant workers

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22 February 1984 46/84


Australia's needs for skilled workers are to be determined

through improved planning which will emphasise greater training of Australians and a reduced reliance on skilled migrants.

A new strategy to pursue this objective was announced today by the Federal Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations,

Mr Ralph Willis, and the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Stewart West.

"We want to ensure that Australians have the opportunity to

take up ah increasing share of skilled jobs and that our need for overseas workers can be reduced as a result," they said.

"The current method of assessing our needs for skilled workers is too short-sighted, and is unable to account properly for changes over time in labour market conditions.

"The new strategy represents a significant step towards a

more rational and effective method of determining Australia's skilled labour needs, both from local and overseas sources."

The main elements of the new strategy are to:

. undertake an annual survey of skilled occupations, co­ ordinated by the Department of Employment and Industrial Relations and involving education and immigration authorities, and relevant industry departments, to provide the basis for medium-term objectives for skilled labour supply to guide the

education, training and immigration systems, as well as industry's training efforts

Parliament House, Canberra A.C.T. 2600 1 -2-466 March 83

Telephone (062) 73 2136

Telex: 6 2 2 8 0 2

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. on the basis of this survey, designate occupations in which

immigration is likely to play a significant role so that the education and training systems can respond by increasing domestic supply of skilled labour wherever possible.

. use the recently announced Review of Commonwealth Labour Market Programs as a basis for developing new approaches to improving the flexibility of training systems, particularly

in the trades

. place a ceiling, to be reviewed every six months, on the

numbers of overseas workers who can be recruited to designated occupations, to complement domestic labour supply in meeting expected labour market requirements.

Although the lead times typically involved in education and

training limit the extent to which domestic labour supply can be raised to meet unanticipated requirements, improved co­ ordination in preparing labour market assessments and increased

flexibility in the education and training systems will enable

a better matching of the two.

The new strategy will also achieve improved control over the

skilled migrant intake.

The existing system for determining intakes of skilled migrant

workers relies on assessments of short-term demand across the major skilled occupations, carried out every six months.

"By the time migrant workers are selected on the basis of this information and actually arrive in Australia, labour market conditions may have changed substantially," the Ministers said.

"Under the new arrangements, the assessment of skilled migrant

intakes will endeavour to anticipate rather than react to changing requirements.

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"Assessments will be based on a medium term assessment of underlying demand and supply trends, with adjustment for identified shifts in short-term labour market conditions.

"The essence of the strategy is to change the balance between domestic and overseas skilled labour supply for the long-term

benefit of existing workers and the community at large.

"This will involve much more than turning the skilled immigration tap on and off in response to short-term changes in the labour


"It will involve integrating for the first time Australia's

education, labour market and immigration policies," the

Ministers said.

The new procedures are currently being developed and are expected to apply from the beginning of the next financial year.

Mr Willis and Mr West emphasised that the strategy for skilled

migration will in no way impinge on the Government's commitment to maintain the priority it has accorded Family and Refugee



Further enquiries can be directed to:

Mr John Bowdler (DEIR)

(062) 43 7365

Mr Nick Spinocchia (DIEA)

(062) 64 2134