The Australian Government has announced a targeted increase to the 2012–13 migration program, providing additional places to help fill skills shortages in parts of the Australian economy.
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen MP said the planned migration program in the 2012–13 Budget would provide support to the growth regions and sectors of Australia’s economy struggling to meet acute skills shortages.
‘The measured increase of 5000 places—from 185 000 to 190 000—comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy,’ Mr Bowen said.
The 2012–13 migration program includes a skill stream of 129 250 places, 60 185 family places and a special eligibility stream of 565 places.
Mr Bowen said regional visas would also continue to be given high processing priority to recognise the needs of regional employers and encourage regional migration.
Up to 16 000 places have been reserved for the regional sponsored migration scheme (skilled) to ensure those areas have the support they need to fill skills gaps, grow local economies and strengthen communities.
‘Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand—they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘Further recent reforms have made employer-sponsored programs more streamlined and responsive.’
The Gillard Government has undertaken systematic reforms of Australia’s skilled migration program since 2007, ensuring skilled migrants now have higher levels of productivity and stronger employment outcomes.
Mr Bowen said the government also recognised the important social benefits of close family reunion, reflected in the increase in family places from 58 600 to 60 185.
‘It’s obviously important that people be able to live with family members, which is recognised in the increased places to help meet growing demand. Importantly, partners and children can also be great contributors to our nation’s productivity,’ Mr Bowen said.
‘Our skilled migration program is driven by Australia’s genuine skills needs and not simply by those who wish to become Australian residents. We believe we have the balance right.’