13/01/2014 - 09:48

Industry group calls for immigration lift

13/01/2014 - 09:48

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A peak industry group has called on the federal government to lift Australia's immigration intake by 15 per cent in order to address skills shortages in a number of professions.

A peak industry group has called on the federal government to lift Australia's immigration intake by 15 per cent in order to address skills shortages in a number of professions.

The Australian Industry Group wants to see immigration levels increased from 190,000 this year to 220,000 in 2014-15, with an emphasis on skilled migration. 

In a submission to the federal government, which is assessing the size of the immigration program to be set in May's budget, Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox says there is a strong case to be made for taking more immigrants.

"This proposed increase takes into account the proven benefits to the economy of a strong migration program," Mr Willox said.

"An increase in migrant numbers supports positive growth in our population and especially in our adult workforce, which is important due to relatively low rates of natural population growth.

"A higher skilled migration intake is appropriate at present due to Australia's historically low (albeit growing) unemployment rates, the deepening impacts of our ageing workforce (with 9 per cent of all Australian employees now aged 60 or over and 17 per cent aged 55 or over), and persistent skill shortages in key growth industries including mining services, engineering, infrastructure and health services.

"While upskilling our current workforce remains a priority, a larger skilled migration program will be necessary to manage the current situation and to assist in smoothing the path to future growth across the economy."

With residential and commercial construction expected to pick up next financial year, skilled trade shortages are likely to be exacerbated, Mr Willox said.

The Ai Group says builders have reported high levels of difficulty in the sourcing of skilled labour in recent months. 

The group is also concerned that low science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills have been reported in a number of professions.

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