Skilled Migration, Vital to Australia's Economy

October 17, 2013

Skilled Migration, Vital to Australia's Economy

Migration data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Oct 7, for the month of August, reveals that long-term migration into Australia is growing. On the other hand, net permanent migration has been falling over the past year. Whereas, Australia received 680,200 permanent and long-term arrivals, more than half of this figure, is offset by the 371,440 permanent and long-term departures from the country.

Migration trends - towards permanent status

Figures above, means that the country received a net number of 308,760 permanent and long-term arrivals in the year till August 2013. According to research blog Macrobusiness, this figure representing a 55 per cent increase from the January 2011 and more than double in terms of long-run average.

Analysis by Macrobusiness shows that in the year till August 2013, permanent arrivals fell by 4 per cent to 152,710; whereas permanent departures rose 5 per cent to their highest ever level of 92,790.

Although the recent statistics only show a rise in long-term immigration and does not directly reveal the extent of permanent migration, Macrobusiness quotes the Department of Immigration that around 30 per cent of people who arrive in Australia on temporary 457 visas eventually end up becoming permanent residents in the country.

Hence, as the research blog says, the actual permanent immigration figures continue to remain relatively high.

Migrants needed for growth

It is a trend, which is also recognised in a report by the Australian Parliament, released in December 2012.

The reports says: “While fluctuations in the numbers of permanent migrants are significant, one of the greatest changes in immigration patterns to Australia in the last decade has been the growth of long-term temporary migration. Although temporary migrants are not counted under the Migration Program for permanent migrants, temporary migration is increasingly becoming the first step towards permanent settlement in Australia for many people.” 

Despite political groups demanding that Australia curtail its immigration numbers, on the back of environmental sustainability, social cohesion and cultural integrity concerns, figures indicate that the immigration has actually grown.

Today, immigration contributes about 60 per cent of the annual population growth rate of 1.8%, which is among the highest in the world. Despite the political opposition, the figures also show the importance that immigrants have in the workforce, of an ageing country.

This fact is revealed in a quote of the then Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, included in the Parliament report mentioned above. The quote expressed the Government’s intention of continuing focus on encouraging economic, and particularly skilled, migration to Australia:

“Skilled migration is vital to Australia's economy. Without migration Australia's labour force is expected to contract by 2050. Australia simply won’t have enough people to keep our economy growing...we need migrants for future growth and prosperity.”

Interestingly, in 2011–12 India was the largest source country with 29,018 (15.7 per cent) of the total Migration Program, followed by China with 25,509 and the UK with 25,274.


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