Australia reducing labor shortages through skilled immigration

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New data released by immigration authorities in Australia show a 27 percent increase in its temporary skilled migration program for 2007-08 financial year.

According to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, the increase in the number of temporary 457 visas highlighted the importance of the program to Australian employers in delivering skilled labor from overseas.

A total of 110,570 temporary visas were granted to foreign workers and their dependents in 2007-08 compared to 87,310 the previous year. The number of primary visa holders increased from 46,680 in 2006-07 to 58,050 in 2007-08.

New South Wales had the largest number of 457 visas granted with a total of 20,480 primary 457 visa holders, followed by Western Australia at 11,800 primary visa holders.

81 percent of foreign workers holding temporary 457 visas were employed in professional occupations and highly skilled jobs. The top three occupations were computing professionals, registered nurses, and business and information professionals.

Nearly 25 percent of 457 visa holders in 2007-08 came from the United Kingdom. They were followed by India at 14 percent, the Philippines at 9 percent, and the US, South Africa and China at 6 percent each.

The 457 temporary visa allows employers to hire overseas workers for periods between three months and four years. However many choose to remain in Australia permanantly. In 2007-08, 25,000 457 visa holders became permanent residents, an increase of 30 percent over the previous year.

Evans stated that minimum salary levels for 457 visa holders will rise at the end of the summer.

"Minimum Salary Levels for subclass 457 visa holders will increase by 3.8 per cent from August 1 after remaining frozen for more than two years," Evans stated in a release.