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Ai Group calls for larger migration program

Ai Group calls for larger migration program

The Australian Industry Group has announced that our country's migrant intake should be increased to help alleviate skills shortages cropping up in various sectors.

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said the number of people arriving in our country on migration visas needs to rise from 190,000 (the current intake) to at least 220,000 by the 2014-15 financial year.

She added that emphasis needs to be on skilled migration through channels such as the 457 visa program "in order to meet current and future skills shortages".

These comments were all part and parcel of a submission the Australian Industry Group made to the federal government in the hope it would encourage Tony Abbott to spare a thought for the size of our country's migration program before it's set in stone as part of the May budget.

Ms Willox explained, the Australian Industry Group's proposed increase of the migration program "takes into account the proven benefits to the economy" of such a program.

"An increase in migrant numbers supports positive growth in our population and especially in our adult workforce, which is important due to relatively low rates of natural population growth," she said in a January 13 statement.

In addition to this, Australia's unemployment rates are currently at an all-time low, and our workforce is ageing. A whopping 9 per cent of all employees are now 60 years old or more, and 17 per cent are 55 years old or more.

There are also "persistent skill shortages" in a number of our country's most important sectors, such as mining, infrastructure, engineering and health care.

Ms Willox said that on top of all this, a recovering property market, as evidenced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest report on dwelling approvals, could lead to "further skilled trade shortages" as we head toward the end of the decade.

"This will be exacerbated by the flow of construction workers into the mining sector and reduced trades apprenticeship numbers in recent years," she said.

All interested migration agents can read the Australian Industry Group's submission in its entirety here.

It's clear the federal government needs to think long and hard about Australia's migration program - and migration agents in Australia will no doubt wait with bated breath to learn what it's decision is!

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