Australia announces immigration increase to fill skill gaps

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The Australian Government announced that they will increase the places available in the 2012–13 migration program in order to help fill skills shortages in parts of Australia.

"The measured increase of 5000 places—from 185 000 to 190 000—comes in the context of significant skills gaps in both the short and medium term in certain sectors of our patchwork economy," said Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen.

The 2012–13 migration program includes 129,250 places for skilled workers, 60,185 family places, and a special eligibility stream of 565 places.

"It's obviously important that people be able to live with family members, which is recognised in the increased places to help meet growing demand. Importantly, partners and children can also be great contributors to our nation's productivity," Bowen said.

Bowen added that regional visas would continue to be given high processing priority in order to help address regional employers skill shortages and encourage regional migration.

Up to 16,000 places have been reserved for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme to ensure that regional areas are able to fill skills gaps and grow local economies.

"Skilled migrants are increasingly moving to growth regions and places where there is demand—they are complementing rather than competing with our domestic labour force," Bowen said. "Further recent reforms have made employer-sponsored programs more streamlined and responsive."

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