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Policy shift improves employment outcomes for migrants

23 October 20140 comments
Photo:  AFP/David Hancock

Photo: AFP/David Hancock

Skilled migrants in Australia are enjoying better jobs and higher levels of employment thanks to a shift in government policy, according to new research.

A study by Melbourne University’s Faculty of Business and Economics found that an increased number of employer sponsorships had improved employment outcomes.

Study author Dr Hielke Buddelmeyer said by increasing the number of employer sponsorships available and tightening selection criteria, the federal government had helped more skilled migrants into appropriate work.

“In the mid-2000s the government selected four skilled migrants for every one selected by employers but now that division is approximately equal,” Dr Buddelmeyer said.

Allowing more employers to sponsor migrant workers is like subcontracting migrant selection to the employers themselves, which encourages higher employability.

“The shift from a ‘supply-driven’ to a ‘hybrid’ model values survival of the fittest. It ensures applicants who may not have the strongest skill sets on paper but who are highly employable are still afforded the opportunity to seek sponsorship,” Dr Buddelmeyer said.

“This results in more stability and better employment outcomes for both migrant workers and their employers,” he said.

Skilled migrants employed as managers and professionals have also increased by five per cent since 2005.

“We believe that part of the reason for this is a result of tightening the skilled migrant selection criteria,” said Dr Buddelmeyer.

“There is increased emphasis on English language skills and work experience which has also resulted in the successful applicants falling into a slightly older age group,” he said.

Dr Buddelmeyer said the results reflected the first year of employment for migrants entering Australia.

“The next step will be to examine employment over an extended period, but so far the results suggest the government’s approach to policy has significantly improved employment outcomes for skilled migrants and is something Australia should be very proud of,” he said.

The study, titled ‘When general skills are not enough: the influence of recent shifts in Australian skilled migration policy on migrant employment outcomes’, said that there was now recognition of skilled migration as a driver of economic growth.

“Recent international trends in skilled migration policy have converged toward so‐called hybrid systems, in which both supply‐driven independent migration and demand‐driven employer sponsored migration play significant roles,” the study said.

“Australia’s hybrid system of skilled migration can be understood as selecting the strongest candidates for independent skilled migration, and requiring weaker candidates to find a sponsoring employer as a pre‐condition for the granting of a permanent visa.

“Our estimates suggest that this approach to policy has helped to significantly improve the short‐run employment outcomes of skilled migrants,” it said.
Cesira Colleluori
AMES Staff Writer