Jenny Brockie’s Insight looks at Migration Boom on July 26

Jenny Brockie, presenter of Insight on SBS


Popular forum program, Insight, returns for its second season of 2011 on

Tuesday 26 July, at 7.30pm on SBS ONE.

For its first episode, Insight looks at the boom in skilled migrants.

Australia is in the midst of a resource rush and there simply aren’t enough suitable people to fill all the jobs. In the next four years alone, it’s estimated Australia needs another 2.4 million skilled workers.

But what’s the best way to get them?

The federal government’s new system ”“ which came into effect this month ”“ is making it easier than ever for Australian businesses to bring in overseas labour. But while skilled migration is a quick solution, there are concerns that it means local workers are less likely to receive valuable training.

And it doesn’t always work out well for the migrants either. There are scores of engineers, nurses and accountants who come all the way to Australia and end up as cleaners.

Insight looks at what is the best outcome for migrants themselves, for Australia’s skilled workforce, and for the wider population.

Guests include:

Senator Chris Evans, the Minister for Skills, Jobs, Workplace Relations and Tertiary Education. He previously held the Immigration portfolio, during which time he signalled a major rethink of how Australia selects skilled migrants for permanent residency and introduced cuts to the Australia’s controversial student visa program. He has represented Western Australia in the federal Upper House since 1993.

Dr. Bob Birrell, joint editor of the quarterly demographic journal People and Place, published by the Centre for Population and Urban Research. The journal regularly examines whether government migration schemes have achieved their stated purpose. Its most recent report (July 2011) states that Australia could fill the looming skills shortages with just half of our current migration intake. Bob has acted as an advisor on immigration

issues to both Labor and Coalition governments.

Natalia Garcia, a qualified engineer who is working as a cleaner. She came to Australia from Columbia in 2008. She studied English before applying for permanent residency under the general skilled migration program. Natalia was granted permanent residency in 2010 but has been unable to obtain work in her field, despite engineering being one of the most sought-after skills in the current labour climate.

Ram Upadhyaya, a Nepalese civil engineer who applied to come to Australia as a skilled migrant in 2009, via a migration agent. He is currently employed through the Regional Migration Scheme and is now living and working in Nhill in far western Victoria as a town planner.

Ross Gittins, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor. Ross has been a press fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge, and journalist-in-residence at the Economics Department of Melbourne University. He says that although the 457 visa program solves short term labour shortages, it also means that employers don’t always try hard enough to train their own people.

Bernard Salt, a KPMG Partner and trend forecaster for business and government. In 2010, Bernard produced KPMG’s Future Focus report which looked at development options for Australia for the current decade. Bernard is known as a proponent of a so called “Big Australia” and is a columnist with The Australian.

Peter Goode, who was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transfield Services in April 2009. He has more than 30 years international experience in the oil and gas and services industries. Peter says the key difference between the skills crisis we’re currently facing, and the one before the economic downturn, is that we are now heading into a period of global labour shortage and many big companies are anxious to lock in quality labour at an early stage.

Insight airs on SBS ONE every Tuesday at 7.30pm.

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