Australia's Policies Underuse Migrant Skills

17:52' 13-03-2018
Massimiliano Tani, Professor of Finance and Economics at the University of New South Wales, says Australia’s skilled migration policy is wasting many of the skills of qualified migrants.

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    Writing in The Conversation, Professor Tani suggests there could be a lack of coordination between Australia’s migration system and employment policies.

    The migration system is devoted to supplying immigrants for skill shortfalls, but employment policies pay less attention to getting the most out of every immigrant. As a result, we can have a skill shortage at the same time as qualified migrants who can't fill these positions.

    Australia’s skilled migration program favours immigrants who are young, university-educated, and English-speaking. However, although they have the skills, they often lack the relevant Australian experience. Professor Tani points out up to 40% of recent immigrants in Australia are over-educated, meaning they have more qualifications than necessary. This is almost four times the level of over-education in native-born Australians.

    Australia’s skilled migration policy is currently informed by employers, who say what skills are needed, either now or in the future. There can be a time lag, sometimes years, between the employers informing immigration authorities of their needs, and migrants entering the labour market.

    Employer have no incentive to be the first in offering new migrants local labour market experience. Migrants are accredited shortly after settlement, but if they cannot acquire this experience, they either delay entering their desired field or move into a different one.

    Professor Tani says there is a need for tighter coordination between immigration and employment policies. For example, data on the employment outcomes of recent migrants could be compared to skill shortages identified by employers, carried out jointly by an immigration-employment task force.

    Using these data, immigration and employment policies could include targets related to migrants’ skills. This would rebalance the focus of immigration and employment policies so that Australia more efficiently uses all the resources we have available, and for which it competes internationally, as in the case of highly qualified migrants.

    The issue does not only affect migrants themselves, but the rest of Australian society, because the government receives less tax. Better coordination between immigration and employment policies is needed if we want to use skills from abroad to fill gaps and become more productive.

    Hiro T

    From an article by Professor Massimiliano Tani in The Conversation.

     

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Keywords: australiamigrant skillsuniversity of new south wales

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