Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the Federal Government will cut the migration intake of skilled workers to counter rising unemployment and concerns from unions about job security.
Evans also says the critical skills list, which details the occupations that are to be given higher priority when processing visas, will be under review.
“It’s fair to say that we expect the demand in the economy for labour to reduce, as it’s a program very much linked to the demand for labour,” he says.
“We expect to run a smaller program.”
The Rudd Government announced a record intake of 133,500 skilled migrants in the 2008-09 budget to help battle labour shortages. But Evans says economic troubles affecting the migration intake will be “almost the reverse”.
Evans also says changes to the critical skills list will be considered. “The critical skills list is under review. And that’s one of the things we’ll look at as the circumstances change. We’ll probably have a formal look at that in the next couple of weeks,” Evans says.
Immigration consultant Bob Kinnaird of RT Kinnaird & Associates says the announcement comes as no surprise, but points out that businesses still have an opportunity to bring in overseas workers in the short term.
“The important thing is that the Government is not considering cutting the program up in the next few months to July. It’s only going to be considering a cut to next year’s program. So my point is that business is usual as far as pumping in additional labour supply until now and the end of the July.”