Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Minimum salary increase for skilled workers

The minimum salary level (MSL) for occupations that are eligible for the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) has increased by 3.8 per cent from August 1.

The MSL increase for the ENS follows the recent announcement by the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, of a similar increase to the MSL for the subclass 457 visa program.

The ENS is a common pathway to permanent residence for skilled workers who are working in Australia on a temporary basis, such as 457 visa holders.

The MSL changes will ensure the program closely aligns with the 457 program and helps to maintain the integrity of Australia’s skilled migration programs.

The standard MSL will increase to $43 440, while the MSL for ICT professionals will increase to $59 477.

These increases will only apply to positions that are nominated under the ENS from August 1.

Existing ENS visa holders, as well as employer nominations for positions lodged before August 1, will not be affected by the MSL increase.

Source: www.immi.gov.au

Migration program boosts economy and eases skills shortage

A report by respected economic analyst Access Economics shows that new migrants to Australia deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to the Commonwealth budget and the broader economy every year.

In a speech to the Australian Mines and Metals Association in Perth on August 22nd, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said that the overall fiscal impact of migration is substantially positive and grows over time in real terms.

In its Migrant Fiscal Impact Model: 2008 Update, Access looked at the costs that migrants impose on health, education, welfare, employment and settlement services compared to the fiscal benefits from taxation and visa charges.

For the 2006-07 migration program, Access estimated a total benefit of $536 million in the first year, then another $856 million in year two, growing steadily over time to reach $1.34 billion by year 20.

‘Applying the same modelling to the 2007-08 migration program, the net fiscal benefit is $610 million in year one, $965 million in year two then growing to $1.5 billion by year 20,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The forecast for the 2008-09 migration program is for an $829 million benefit in the first year, $1.16 billion in the second year, then $1.8 billion by year 20.’

Senator Evans said the Access modelling dispelled the myth that new migrants imposed a huge impost on the taxpayer.

‘The positive fiscal impact is particularly pronounced for skilled migrants, which reflects their high rate of labour market participation and higher incomes which in turn leads to a high level of direct tax receipts,’ Senator Evans said.

‘Migrants also contribute to the broader economy through spending on goods and services.

‘As well as the economic benefits, skilled migrants help Australian employers fill critical labour gaps at a time many businesses are facing capacity constraints.

‘The bottom line is that our migration program is vital to keep the economy growing as well as helping Australian businesses overcome skills and labour shortages.

‘Australia is facing a demographic shift that will see more people retire than join the workforce so the permanent skilled migration program provides a stable, effective and targeted source of skilled workers.’

Australia’s migration program increased annually over the last decade under the previous government to the point where the 2007-08 migration program was the biggest provided by Australia since the 1960s.

The 2007-08 migration program comprised 108 540 places (68 per cent) in the skilled migration stream and 49 870 places (31 per cent) in the family migration stream. Another 13 000 refugee and humanitarian visas were granted in 2007-08.

Last year’s intake represents a seven per cent increase on the 2006-07 migration program which totalled 158 960 places, of which two thirds (97 920) were skilled migrants.

The 2008-09 migration and humanitarian program is expected to total 203 000 visa grants, with 133 500 allocated for skilled migrants, 13 500 places for refugee and humanitarian entrants and a further 56 500 places in the family stream.

Source: http://www.minister.immi.gov.au

Victoria, Australia targets UK doctors

The Victorian Government has announced new initiatives to encourage more doctors from the UK to consider moving down under by simplifying the registration process for Doctors.

An online registration site <www.health.vic.gov.au/workforce/register> has been developed to provide doctors with guidance on Victorian registration requirements. It helps connect doctors to vacant positions.

The introduction of the Competent Authority Pathway makes it easier for non-specialist doctors to work in Australia. It enables eligible doctors working in the UK to apply for advanced standing toward the Australian Medical Council (AMC) certificate.

Doctors who are granted advanced standing will be exempt from the AMC examinations, both Part A (MCQ) and Part B (Clinical). Instead, General Registration may be granted, following successful workplace based assessments while working under supervision.

More information about the Competent Authority Pathway can be found at www.amc.org.au. Applications can be lodged online.

For doctors who would like to move to Victoria long-term, the fast track to General Registration assists in gaining permanent residency.

For UK specialists who want to work in Victoria, there is the Specialist Pathway and the Area of Need (AON) Specialist Pathway.

The Specialist Pathway is centred on the qualification of fellowship. Doctors apply to the relevant college in Australia to have their qualifications, skills and experience compared against the Australian standard of fellowship. Any college-determined conditions will need to be fulfilled which is likely to include a role with appropriate oversight or supervision.

The AON Specialist Pathway, on the other hand, is centred on a job in an Area of Need. This is any position or location in which there is a lack of specific medical practitioners or where there are medical positions that remain unfilled. In this pathway, the relevant college makes an assessment about whether the doctor, who must be the preferred candidate for the position, can adequately perform the role. Doctors who follow this pathway are often assessed for fellowship at the same time.

Victoria offers UK doctors excellent professional and lifestyle opportunities. Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, is one of the world’s most liveable and cosmopolitan cities. It is the sporting and cultural capital of Australia. Outside Melbourne, the cities and towns are home to stunning coastline, mountains and scenic national parks. Seasons are on average 10 degrees warmer than the United Kingdom.

The Victorian public health system is among the best in the world. Victorian hospitals treat some of the most complex cases in the country and are at the forefront of medical research. There are opportunities to work in a diverse range of interesting and rewarding settings; from smaller health care centres serving regional farming communities to large tertiary hospitals in the cities.

Doctors who want to learn more about living and working in Victoria are invited to register their interest at: www.health.vic.gov.au/workforce/register

Budget 2008-09 - Record skilled migration program to boost economy

The Rudd Government has moved to ease pressure on employers struggling with the skills shortage by adding an additional 31 000 skilled migrants to the 2008-09 Migration Program.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said on the 13th May, the extra places allocated to the permanent skilled migration program represented a 30 per cent increase on 2007-08 when the Howard government added just 5000 places.

‘The permanent skilled migration program is a capped scheme that has not been allowed to grow sufficiently in the past to respond to the skills shortages now faced by employers,’ Senator Evans said.

‘This record increase in the number of places in the permanent skilled migration program, since the introduction of managed migration in 1947, will help ease Australia’s skills shortage and help fight inflation.’

The increase is further to a special one-off allocation of 6000 extra skilled migration places announced by the Rudd Government in February 2008.

Overall, permanent skilled migration will make up 133 500 places in the Migration Program, which totals 190 300 for 2008-09. The Family stream will be increased by 6500 places to 56 500. This increase in the Family stream includes a boost of 4000 places to the parent visas.

‘This significant increase of permanent skilled workers in 2008-09 will ensure a better balance in our skilled migration program overall,’ Senator Evans said.

‘Australia’s skilled migration program is structured to target skills to meet the needs of the job market by maximising the use of employer-sponsored migration.’

Research has shown that the labour market participation rate for permanent skilled migrants is now more than 90 per cent.

‘The program also works with state and territory governments to foster state-sponsored migration and uses the Migration Occupations in Demand List to get the right workers into the right jobs,’ Senator Evans said.

The increase in the Migration Program from 2008-09 will cost an additional $1.4 billion over four years for settlement services and ongoing core government services such as health, education and employment services. The additional cost to the Budget will be more than offset by revenues from income tax, excise duty, GST and charges paid by the new migrants, estimated at some $2.9 billion over four years. The states and territories will be paid $1.0 billion in GST.

The Rudd Government has also committed $19.6 million to improve the processing and compliance of the temporary skilled migration program, which includes the uncapped 457 visa scheme.

‘This is the first stage of a series of reforms aimed at restoring integrity and public confidence in the 457 program,’ Senator Evans said.

‘The Rudd Government is committed to ensuring the 457 visa scheme operates as effectively as possible in contributing to the supply of skilled labour while protecting the employment and training opportunities of Australians and the rights of overseas workers.’

Senator Evans said the use of 457 visas to employ temporary skilled migrant workers has grown rapidly in recent years.

A total of 39 500 subclass 457 visas was granted in 2003-04 compared with 49 700 in just the first half of 2007-08.

Senator Evans said the temporary skilled migration program is expected to exceed 100 000 places in each of 2007-08 and 2008-09.

A working party led by Senator Evans and the Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and including the Treasurer and Minister for Trade, will develop a longer-term reform package which will be considered as part of the 2009-10 Budget.

The working party will consult with state and territory governments, industry and the unions as well as with industrial relations expert, Barbara Deegan.

Ms Deegan is examining the temporary skilled migration program to address concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers, salary levels and English language requirements in order to improve the integrity of the scheme.

Ms Deegan is due to present her report to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and the Deputy Prime Minister in October.

Source: Press release, Senator Chris Evens, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship


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