Australia - More IT immigrants needed

Australia's Federal Government is predicting a fall in the number of Skilled Migration visas issued to technology applicants in 2004-05, reports The Australian newspaper.

According to data released on February 28 by Australia's Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA), skilled migration visas granted from within Australia to technology applicants are expected to be 25 percent of the total in 2004-05, compared to 40 percent of the total in 2003-04. The figure for skilled migration visas granted to those living outside Australia is expected to drop from 27 percent to 23 percent of the total, while total skilled migration visas for IT&T would fall from 33 percent to 24 percent of the total number of visas issued.

DIMIA says the falling numbers are due to stricter eligibility criteria for the visas.

The news comes as the technology industry worries about a shortage of graduates in the next few years. John Ridge, Executive Director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation, said potential IT immigrants perceived a lack of job opportunities in Australia. Mr Ridge said this had to be corrected and overseas students had to be encouraged to migrate permanently if skills shortages are to be avoided.