Transformation of immigration needed to solve skill crisis

by 01 Dec 2011

The current immigration laws are out-dated and no longer serving the needs of Australia in light of the burgeoning skills shortage, according to a new discussion paper.

Professional services firm, Deloitte, has suggested that innovative solutions are needed to meet the challenges of the current economic environment, namely an overhaul of out-dated immigration legislation.

Mark Wright, partner at Deloitte and national immigration leader, said that the current environment is increasing  demand for a coordinated approach to workforce planning, where new government policies and employee relations need to be considered.

“Traditionally, immigration has been about ‘ticking boxes’ in order to bring offshore labour in to fill a role, but we need to stop thinking about immigration policy in isolation from other workforce solutions,” Wright said.

He said that a more targeted approach to addressing Australia’s skills needs is required, namely by moving some of the centralised control away from Canberra and allowing states and regions greater input and control over the flow of skilled workers on a needs basis.

“Ensuring that the recently introduced Regional Migration Agreements and Enterprise Migration Agreements allow states greater flexibility in sourcing workers would be a first step in achieving that,” Wright said.

In The New Immigration Paradigm by Deloitte, it is suggested that employers and government need to address the problem of workforce planning with solutions that provide for the whole of an employee’s career life cycle, including:

  • Global internship programs – this solution would allow highly sought after graduates recruited from universities and colleges around the world to enter a program through which they could develop their skills base by rotating through the global operations of the sponsoring company

  • Global skills passport – allowing skilled workers, such as engineers, entry to participating countries on the basis of their skills status alone

  • Sponsored project visa – this would accommodate the high level of project-driven labour activity in the resources, construction, IT, and energy sectors by allowing companies to more easily bring in workers for  periods of up to six months to work on specific projects   

  • “456½” visa – sitting between the current 456 and 457 visas, this scheme would allow skilled workers from depressed international markets, such as the US or Ireland, to work in Australia on a temporary basis, possibly for six months to a year

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