08/10/2008 - 22:00

Exodus puts squeeze on skills

08/10/2008 - 22:00

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THE outlook for the skills shortage in Western Australia is not looking good, with more than 8,000 people permanently leaving the state during the 2008 financial year.

THE outlook for the skills shortage in Western Australia is not looking good, with more than 8,000 people permanently leaving the state during the 2008 financial year.

According to the Emigration 2007-2008 report released this week, 8,338 Western Australian residents left the state, a number that has been steadily increasing since 2001 when some 5,000 people were recorded leaving.

During the 2008 financial year, more than one-quarter of departures from WA were in the 24 to 35-year-old age bracket, with 2,146 people leaving, while 1,876 people were recorded in the 35 to 44-year-old age bracket.

The increasing number is cause for concern considering some 400,000 extra workers are needed over the next decade for the state to reach its economic potential, according to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA.

The labour shortage was one of 10 key policies that CCIWA urged the new Liberal-National state government to address as soon as possible.

The exodus is not only a matter for the state but for the country as a whole, with 76,923 people recorded as permanently leaving the country over the past year, making it Australia's biggest annual departure on record.

The report revealed that almost half the residents were in skilled jobs and almost two-thirds were aged between 25 and 54.

A further 102,066 Australian residents left the country for a year or more, with more than 55 per cent in professional occupations or trades.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the figures showed that emigration played a significant role in Australia's current skills shortage.

''Historically high numbers of our young, highly skilled people are moving overseas to live and work,'' Senator Evans said.

The exodus in 2007-08 represents a 6.7 per cent increase on the previous year and a 325 per cent increase on the low of 18,100 people who left permanently in 1985-86.

''These latest figures also reflect the current global demand for skills and the internationalisation of the labour market as part of the broader process of globalisation,'' Senator Evans said.

Of the permanent departures, more than 20,000 were classified as professionals, 5,510 were in the associate professionals category, 8,651 were managers and administrators, and 2,892 were trades people.

For long-term departures, those leaving Australia for one year or more, 55,610 were in the professionals category, 14,958 managers and administrators and 11,710 trades people.

Overall, 226,072 Australian residents left the country for a year or more. The main countries of intended residence for all permanent departures were New Zealand, up 18.4 per cent, the United Kingdom (17.8 per cent), the United States (9.3 per cent), Hong Kong (7.2 per cent) and Singapore (6.4 per cent).

Those leaving are almost equally divided between Australian born and overseas born.

New South Wales led the exodus with 31,390 people leaving the state, followed by Victoria with 16,408, Queensland 15,289 and 3,100 from South Australia.

Of the permanent departures, 39,467, or 51 per cent, were men compared to 37,456 women.

Although there were 149,635 permanent arrivals in 2007-08, the net gain - arrivals minus permanent departures - was the 10th highest recorded.

The report is based on information from passenger cards supplied to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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