The Fed Govt cut skilled migration numbers again in the May 12 federal Budget, marking a total reduction of 20% since March, with a new emphasis on employer-sponsored places and business skills entrants. Immigration Minister Senator Chris Evans said the Fed Govt remained committed to a strong migration program but was responding to an expected increase in unemployment as the economy slowed. “The migration intake in the coming year reflects the economic climate while ensuring employers can gain access to skilled professionals in industries still experiencing shortages,” Evans said. The reduction would be achieved by a cutback in the general skilled category rather than the high-demand, employer-sponsored category, he said. Other measures outlined in the Budget were skills assessments for “high-risk” 457 visa applicants and increased English language requirements for temporary and permanent entrants. ACCI chief exec Peter Anderson warned the latest reduction risked the govt “moving ahead of the labour market rather than in conjunction with it”. The “best” skilled migration policy avoided peaks and troughs, he said. “There is a reduction in demand because of the downturn, and the risk for the govt is that it would have to increase targets once recovery is in place. Skilled migration is not a matter that can be turned around in the space of months. It can take a year or two for someone to organise their affairs to leave their home country,” Anderson said. Skilled migration numbers were cut from 133,500 to 115,000 in March, with this week’s Budget announcement reducing the total number of skilled migration places for 2009-10 to 108,100.
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