Australia Still Wants Your Skills

Recent media reports have created the impression that Australia is no longer welcoming skilled migrants. But it’s an impression, expert immigration firm, 1st Contact says is inaccurate. The international firm says amendments to Australian migration policy centre on changes in the categories that administer migration and do not signal any end to it.

“Australia does still need skilled migrants,” says Anna McKellar, a Visa Consultant at 1st Contact’s Migration Office in London. “Occupations for skilled professionals are still open so individuals possessing sought after skills remain in demand.” She identifies recent confusion in the media as having emerged, given several professions have been removed from a critical skills occupations list designed to fast track applicants’ processes for individuals possessing skills in high demand in the Australian economy.

In January 2009 the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIaC) introduced the Critical Skills List (CSL), which highlights occupations in critical demand in Australia. On the basis of this list, authorities fast track an application if the potential migrant performs an occupation which is registered on the CSL. When any given skill is removed from the list, it isn’t removed from the overall Australian migration category of skills in demand.

1st Contact says it’s important to understand that there are 2 lists used specifically for the purpose of allocating points to an applicant’s points score when seeking employment in Australia. “They comprise the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and the Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL),” McKellar points out.

In mid March, the DIaC reviewed the CSL and removed all trade occupations in building and manufacturing, with exceptions for Gasfitters, Wall and Floor Tiler and Electronic Equipment trades. The move led some to assume or report that these skills were thus no longer in demand at all, when in fact they were simply no longer eligible for fast tracking as they had been removed from the CSL. The BBC was amongst those who erroneously reported “bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters are no longer required,” when, in fact, their applications are simply not eligible for fast-tracking during the application process.

According to Australian Senator Chris Evans, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, building and manufacturing trades will be removed from the Critical Skills List, meaning fast tracked applications for bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters will no longer apply. “The list will now comprise mainly health and medical, engineering and IT professions,” he noted in an online statement on a government website.

The changes to the Critical Skills List are due to the economic situation in Australia, which has prompted authorities to limit migration intake for the next visa year, which starts in July and runs through to June 2010. The biggest slow down has occurred among the trade sector in Australia and due to this slow down in the market, DIaC reviewed the CSL, and has taken the appropriate action.

The Australian authorities will continue to review the critical skills list and according to Senator Evans, the “government remains committed to a strong migration program but will continue to monitor the migration intake and will set the 2009-10 migration program to reflect the economic climate as part of the Budget process.”

Although some occupations have come off the CSL, they will remain on the SOL (Skilled Occupations List) and MODL (Migration Occupations in Demand List), so applicants who satisfy the points criteria can still make an application for migration to Australia. The option of fast-tracking applications for skilled professions, which no longer fall on the CSL, are still available under State or Territory sponsorship.