The Rudd Government will cut the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration program by 14% to protect local jobs while ensuring employers can access skilled professionals in industries still experiencing skills shortages.
The Government can adjust immigration levels according to the economic circumstances of the day and last week Cabinet agreed to cut the permanent skilled migration program in light of the worsening global economic situation.
The changes to the program are:
· A 14% cut in the 2008-09 permanent skilled migration program intake from 133 500 to 115 000.
· Removing building and manufacturing trades from the Critical Skills List, such as bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters. The list will now comprise mainly health and medical, engineering and IT professions.
These changes follow measures announced in December that resulted in only those migrants sponsored by an employer or in an occupation on the Critical Skills List being granted visas under the permanent skilled migration program.
Almost half of the permanent visas granted are to applicants already living and working in Australia.
The Critical Skills List will remain under constant review and the Government will remove occupations from the list if demand for those skills can be satisfied by local labour.