The Government will sharpen the focus of the skilled migration program on areas of skills shortage but will maintain the current overall size of the migration program, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today.
The overall size of the migration program will remain unchanged with a total of 168 700 places, comprising a total skill stream of 113 850 places, a total family stream of 54 550 places and 300 special eligibility places.
The overall level of skilled migration will increase by 5750 program places. This includes an additional 9150 program places for employer-sponsored skilled migration and a decrease of 3600 places for general skilled migration. An additional 200 visas in the business skills visa category will also be offered.
There will be a reduction in the level of family migration by 5750 program places. Family migration visas will continue to be granted and family members can gain access to temporary visas to travel to Australia to visit family members.
'These reforms support the Government's policy to deliver a more demand-driven skilled migration program that meets the needs of the economy in sectors and regions where there are shortages of skilled workers,' Senator Evans said.
'This updated focus will help further assist employers by ensuring they have access to applicants with skills in high demand that cannot be met from domestic sources.
'Foreign skilled labour is an important driver of economic growth and contributes to increased productivity and labour force levels. It also benefits migrants by ensuring they have a job with a direct match to their skills on arrival in Australia.'
The Government has said for some time the migration intake would reflect the economic climate and it would help ensure employers could gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages.
The composition of the migration program will assist in delivering the Government's reforms designed to address shortages of highly skilled workers, such as healthcare, engineering and mining professionals who have an employer willing to sponsor them.
'Revising the mix of the skill stream of the migration program is critical to ensuring the reforms are effective,' Senator Evans said.
This will enable the skilled migration program to respond appropriately to changes in demand for skilled labour as the economy emerges from the global financial crisis.
These measures are part of the Rudd Government's commitment to strengthening our economy and securing our future.
URL: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au /media/media-releases/2010/ce01-budget-10.htm
Last update: 11 May 2010 at 19:36 AEST