Surani Punchihewa : MARN 0426579 Migration Consultant, registered in the Migration Agent's Registration Authority in Australia.
Skills shortage is persistent
Not long ago the Australian General Skilled Migration (GSM) program was revamped, and major changes were done to IELTS requirement and the points scheme. I have been in Australia for the past one month; there seems to be a real demand for certain skills here, mainly in mining and construction industries. According to a few articles published in the Age newspaper recently, almost two-thirds of all the large companies are considering hiring staff from overseas to overcome skills shortages.
Recruiting difficulties are chronic in construction and engineering, sales and marketing and manufacturing/trades, but primarily at the professional and technical level, not at the blue-collar level. Nurses, childcare workers, cooks, hairdressers and butchers are also in short supply, according to the most recent skill shortage list published by the federal government. Wilhelm Harnisch, the chief executive of Master Builders Australia, agreed, calculating that in the next five to 10 years, the mining sector would recruit an extra 60,000 to 80,000 workers.
Despite this acute shortage predicted, the Australian government has done drastic changes to the GSM program. These changes will result in less applicants qualifying and consequently adding more pressure to the existing skills shortage. As announced already, the GSM program from 2012 would take a brand new look, making things even more complicated, and perhaps providing opportunity to a lesser extent.
As already announced, Perth is classified a regional area for RSMS (Regional Skilled Migration Scheme). This means, the opportunities ahead lies with employer sponsored migration. Technically speaking, an employer will nominate applicants for temporary and permanent visas. There are a few schemes under this program, named ENS (employer nominated scheme), RSMS (Regional Skilled Migration Scheme), Labour Agreement, 457visa, which is the temporary option where the majority of skilled workers make their pathway to Australia. Under the 457 scheme, you will be sponsored for a 4 year work permit and the skilled worker must contribute to the organization sponsored. Eventually, workers can be sponsored for permanent residency if criteria for residency is satisfied.
Now is the time
As the GSM program will bridge into a new program, it is recommended if current criteria for GSM is met now, to make the most of the available opportunity. Getting the IELTS right will be the key. Unlike prior July 2011, majority of applicants will require 7 in each component in a General IELTS test to qualify for a visa. Therefore, several attempts in this test may be needed to achieve this high mark. Unfortunately few tests cannot be combined to produce the score. Also, applicants must be vigilant for available State nomination option. If you are nominated by a State/ Territory government in Australia, this will add further 10 or 5 points depending on the visa type. A nomination can be very vital not only in terms of getting the passmark, but also, being nominated through a State will give an indication of an assurance of availability of employment, which is a very vital factor.
Paving the way to lodging an application
Once an applicant is assured to score 65 points, either for a permanent or a temporary visa, the applicant must assess the skills. This will be done through a specialized Australian authority for their particular occupation. There is a new requirement where the applicant's employment must be verified by the assessment authority for the purpose of point allocation. If a state government must sponsor an applicant, that part has to be concluded prior to visa lodgment. New regulations impose sponsorship limitation on relatives, therefore it is very important to know who can sponsor you and, where the relative resides in Australia. It is always recommended getting advice from licensed migration practitioners. Anyone intending to migrate under the current regulations have almost 11 months, if you have made your decision, it is better now than never.
Some information of this article was extracted from an article published In The Age on the 26 July by Kelly Burke