Monday, March 16, 2009




  * Building, manufacturing jobs protected
    * Gates to shut on 18,500 foreign workers
    * Unions expected to welcome move
LOCAL building and manufacturing jobs will be firewalled, with the Rudd Government set to close the gate on about 18,500 foreign workers this year.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans will reveal the Government is to cut its permanent skilled migration program this financial year by 14 per cent to protect Australian jobs.
"Clearly the economic circumstances in Australia have changed as a result of the global financial crisis so it is prudent to reduce this year's migration intake accordingly," Senator Evans said.
The changes mean building and manufacturing trades will be removed from Australia's critical skills list, protecting local bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters.
But employers will still be able to access skilled workers such as doctors and nurses in industries and sectors where acute skills shortages exist.
The critical skills list will now comprise mainly health and medical, engineering and IT workers.

Cabinet agreed last week to slash the permanent skilled migration program intake because of the worsening global economic situation.
The Government will reduce the planned record intake of 133,500 workers in 2008-09 to 115,000.
The move is expected to be welcomed by unions, which have been agitating for months for a reduction in imported labour because of the international downturn.
Queensland's mining sector has been gutted by the world recession, and across the state, job vacancies for skilled workers have plunged.
The latest Treasury figures forecast Australia's unemployment rate will peak at 7 per cent mid next year. In February, the jobless rate spiked to the highest monthly level since the 1991 recession at 5.2 per cent.
The reduction in this financial year's intake follows measures announced in December that resulted in only those migrants sponsored by an employer or in an occupation on the critical skills list being granted visas under the permanent skilled migration program.
Almost half of the permanent visas granted are to applicants already living and working in Australia.
Senator Evans said the Government intended to constantly review the critical skills list and remove occupations if demand for the skills could be met by Australian workers.
The 2009-10 migration program will be set in the May Budget and reflect the economic climate.

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