The Australian Government has revealed the eagerly-awaited Skilled Occupations List (SOL) which will determine the shape of the immigration programme over the next year.
The Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans had vowed to overhaul the SOL to deliver a “labour market demand-driven skilled migration programme”.
The new SOL replaces the old Migration Occupations In Demand List (MODL).
The list is central to the hopes of many young Irish seeking to emigrate to Australia as most Irish nationals gain permanent residency through the skilled programme.
The new SOL is one of a package of measures which, the Department of Immigration says, is expected to cut the number of places available to independent skilled migrants in favour of employer-sponsored applicants.
“Employer-sponsored migration matches migrants directly to jobs in Australia, making it the best method to ensure the labour market gets the skills it needs now,” the department said in a release.
Irish-born migration agent John McQuaid said while the new list was much as expected, it did contain many of the major trades which will be good news for the many Irish tradesmen who are seeking to flee recession-stricken Ireland.
He said that the focus has clearly shifted to employers and state governments to identify and sponsor skilled migrants.
“The short-term migration plan is being left to the state governments and employers via sponsorship or nomination,” Mr McQuaid explained.
“I doubt either employers or state governments will be impressed that they will be forced to take a more hands-on approach to finding and securing their skilled force.
“The part of the picture that is still not entirely clear is which occupations individual state governments will add to their new State Migration Plans (SMP),” Mr McQuaid said.
“These SMP lists are going to be really important for Irish people whose occupations do not appear on the new SOL and would be of particular importance to Irish people still at home in Ireland who are looking at migrating as they may not have the benefit of Australian employer contacts that many of the Working Holiday Visa (WHV) holders or temporary sponsored workers here in Australia have access to.”
Each state will have differing requirements so applicants may need to be flexible in terms of where they expect to live.
“As an example, New South Wales, historically has sponsored very few occupations. Trades, for instance, are highly unlikely to be sponsored by NSW,” Mr McQuaid said.
Minister Chris Evans described the new SOL as “an independent piece of work by Skills Australia. It’s focused on us developing a skills base and matching our education effort and this list will determine who can independently migrate to Australia.”
The new SOL features many medical and engineering occupations as well as accountants, surveyors, chemists and locksmiths.
It also features a range of education jobs including secondary school teachers, early childhood and special needs teachers.
The list prioritises many trades including carpenters, plumbers, panel beaters, bricklayers, painters, glaziers, drainers and electricians.
The list comes into effect on July 1, 2010.
Meanwhile, new Australian visa figures for Irish nationals reveal a changing pattern. While the number of Working Holiday Visas has fallen, more Irish are being approved for permanent residency.
by Billy Cantwell