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Transform immigration to solve skill crisis, says Deloitte


1 December 2011: A new discussion paper released by professional services firm, Deloitte, suggests that the old rules of immigration no longer serve the future of the workforce or the Australian economy, and proposes a number of innovative solutions to help government and business meet the challenges of the current economic environment.

Mark Wright, Deloitte Partner and National Immigration Leader, says the transaction- and compliance-driven approach taken by many companies has been rendered obsolete by a complex environment that demands a coordinated approach to workforce planning, government policy and employee relations.

“Traditionally, immigration has been about ‘ticking boxes’ in order to bring offshore labour in to fill a role, but we need to stop thinking about immigration policy in isolation from other workforce solutions.”

“Instead, we need to move towards a more targeted approach to addressing our needs by moving some of the centralised control away from Canberra and allow states and regions greater input and control over the flow of skilled workers on a needs basis.

“Ensuring that the recently introduced Regional Migration Agreements and Enterprise Migration Agreements allow states greater flexibility in sourcing workers would be a first step in achieving that,” Mr Wright said.

In The New Immigration Paradigm Mr Wright also suggests that employers and government need to address the problem of workforce planning with solutions that provide for the whole of an employee’s career life cycle, including:

  • Global internship programs – this solution would allow highly sought after graduates recruited from universities and colleges around the world to enter a program through which they could develop their skills base by rotating through the global operations of the sponsoring company
  • Global skills passport – allowing skilled workers, such as engineers, entry to participating countries on the basis of their skills status alone
  • Sponsored project visa – this would accommodate the high level of project-driven labour activity in the resources, construction, IT, and energy sectors by allowing companies to more easily bring in workers for periods of up to six months to work on specific projects
  • “456½” visa – sitting between the current 456 and 457 visas, this scheme would allow skilled workers from depressed international markets, such as the United States or Ireland, to work in Australia on a temporary basis, possibly for six months to a year.

“Asia is expected to be the engine room for growth over the next decade and if Australia is to be truly competitive in that market and realise its future potential it must continue to support a diverse range of programs that provide both long and short term solutions, and which take into account the many stakeholders involved in the various stages of the employment lifecycle,” Mr Wright said.

“The recently announced changes to the Living Away from Home Allowance is a case in point. We would contend that if Australia is to attract the best global talent, then we should be avoiding changes that make Australia a less attractive destination to corporate executives and expatriates than lower taxing competitors such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

“The looming skill shortage is not just Australia’s problem. Australia may face greater challenges than most, but the skills crisis and the mobility required to address it are global issues that cannot be solved by one country trying to confront it in isolation. True global mobility will be one of the key factors in ensuring Australia’s workforce requirements are addressed and that will only be achieved by shifting the debate beyond our shores.”

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Eileen Kerrigan
Job Title:
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Tel: +61 3 9671 6910, Mobile: 0412 499 683
Mark Wright
Job Title:
Partner, Global Employer Services
Tel: +61 2 9322 7454, Mob: +61 411 220 354




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