Skilled migration and the workforce: An overview

By John Saunders Research report 11 April 2008 ISBN 978 1 921170 05 8


This publication provides a brief overview of migration, with an emphasis on the contribution migration has made to the workforce. It shows that Australia has been using targeted migration programs to expand and enhance the skills base of its workforce for some time.


About the research

  • Australia clearly bene?ts from the movement of skilled workers in and out of the country. In 2004–05 there was a net gain of around 46 000 skilled migrants, two in three of whom were professionals.
  • The number of skilled migrants has tripled in the past decade. They now account for close to half of all migrants. Skilled migrants represent a major source of supply for occupations experiencing employment growth, particularly in the professions and the trades.
  • Temporary migration has grown substantially and is most evident in the rapid rise in employer-sponsored long-stay (or class 457) visas. This is in response to recent skill shortages, with most 457 visa holders employed in the professions and the trades.
  • Migrants constitute 11% of employed people. They are relatively over-represented in the professions (14%) but under-represented in technical and associate professional occupations (10%) and the trades (9%).
  • Many skilled migrants experience dif?culties in ?nding employment in their occupational ?eld, representing a loss of the potential bene?ts they bring to a job.



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