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Skills shortage crisis?

After Julia Gillard declared, soon after she was promoted as Prime Minister, that she did not want a "Big Australia" the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group and the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry all warned that growth was needed to support the economy and offset the “ageing of the population”. The enormous pressure to surrender to the financial interests of big business groups is at odds with the interests of the people of Australia, and overlook the real causes of our “skills shortages”.

Skills Shortages crisis

According to a survey of 400 companies by the Australian Industry Group, skills shortages in key professions and vocations have escalated so that they now present a high to extreme risk of impeding business operations this year.

Chronic shortages in skilled occupations are of particular concern because of the time required to develop the necessary skills – sometimes years – and their central importance to business operations.

The skilled vacancies employers are struggling to fill include professional engineers, business administration managers and accountants, metal fitters and machinists and metal casting, forging and finishing tradespeople. However, there are extremely limited opportunities to actually find apprenticeships for these positions, especially in metal fitters and turners and machine operators, and flexible and compliant foreign students are all too easily allowed to undercut pay rates and take jobs away from locals.

Insufficient training opportunities

Our manufacturing industries, despite being pivotal to our economy, have diminished, along with apprenticeships and traineeships.  We don't need more people! There just aren't enough opportunities to obtain skills!

Vocational education turned out almost 7000 fabrication engineering and mechanical engineering trades workers last year, including sheetmetal workers and machinists, the National Centre for Vocational Education Research said. However, despite these healthy numbers, the AIG said it stood by its claims, saying a qualification did not necessarily equate to a job. They then claim the graduates were not employable due to lack of literacy and numeracy skills!

This inadequacy is a reflection on the educational institutions themselves. Courses are being “dumbed down” for international students and new arrivals!


Australia has traditionally had high levels of protection, since the 1950’s in areas like textiles, clothing and footwear and motor vehicles. Cutting protection reduced employment and demolished much of our own production. Most industries that were heavily protected during the 1970’s and 1980’s still suffered losses of employment and were not efficient enough to compete in export markets.

Before privatisation of Victorian public services, such as the SEC, Railways and transport, Gas and Fuel, MMBW trained thousands of apprentices, who were then taken up by the industries or ran private businesses. This no longer happens, thanks to Premier Kennett!

Employers continually seek “experienced” employees, and this prohibits opportunities for traineeships and better utilisation and development of employee skills.

We need employees to take on their fair share of employee training and skills development instead of turning on the immigration tap.

Australia's Largest Export industry – education!

Ironically, education has become Australia's largest service export, worth about $16 billion a year.  TAFES and universities should be funded sufficiently to address our need for skilled graduates rather then be used to generate profits.  We head-hunt the skilled from developing countries where they are needed rather than exporting skilled professionals and trades people, as we should be doing!

Skills shortages hype and immigration

The "skills shortages" hype is being generated by business and pro-growth groups for their own self-serving interests to bring more people to Australia, and thus more customers! The people flooding into Australia are primarily foreign workers, being recruited here to fill skills shortages. Why? Because it's cheaper to bring in foreign workers who already have skills than to train our own.

Last year 508,000 people arrived to live in Australia as permanent residents, temporary workers or students.

This is happening despite the 5.2 general level of unemployment in Australia.  There are those who are categorised as being over the assets limit, either themselves or their parents, but may have no or little cash flow.  Others are under-employed,but these groups do not need to register at Centerlink.  They hide the real levels of unemployment.

So many of our manufacturing industries have disappeared overseas, that opportunities for training and apprenticeships are limited, despite the provisions of vocational training at TAFES.

Why should we be having an immigration program to address skill shortages when we should be developing a better educational and training framework that produces and exports our own skilled workforce?

TAFES and universities should be properly funded instead of being a profit-making global resource.

Our reliance on foreign skilled workers is a risk to something even more important: our social fabric, a duty of care to our own citizens first and foremost and our sense of national unity against the forces of globalisation.

The “skills shortages” is one that is manufactured, and is another population growth myth being propagated to justify further immigration.

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There are some genuine students who study hard and then go back for employment in their own countries, but there have been too many bogus courses simply as a back door to immigration here. We do not lack skills in hairdressing, bakery or cooking in Australia. They are simply low paid and require long hours!
Students have bought housing too, and rentals have added to the demand we already have of housing.
Students don't have to live here to study our courses. The courses should mainly be done in their home countries, online and in campuses overseas. They should just come here for post graduate or for experience.
Foreign students don't have to live here in Australia. There are overseas campuses of Tafes and universities that should be promoted and developed first. This would leave our own educational institutions open for our citizens to alleviate the "skills shortages" businesses keep complaining about. We could still have an export industry, but off-shore. This would leave our educational institutions free to do the job they are supposed to do - educate our citizens and address the so-called skills shortages, and then be able to send human resources overseas as another export industry.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship:
"Australia's immigration programs are targeted at meeting specific social and economic objectives. In particular, the skilled migration program is designed to deliver skilled workers to critical parts of the economy such as the healthcare, mining, and information technology sectors, where and when they are needed, where these skills cannot be met locally".

Despite international students being lured here to study at our, presumably, top class educational institutions such as universities and colleges, we ourselves must admit that there are better resources for studying in the above skills overseas in developing countries. We are sourcing skills from countries such as India and Bangladesh. Can anyone else see the contradiction?

"Skills Australia projects that we will have 9.3 million job openings in Australia over the next 15 years. Around 4.4 million of these jobs will arise due to workers leaving the workforce as the baby boom generation begins to retire. While the education and training of Australian workers is the government's first priority, immigration will play an important role in plugging these skill gaps. Immigration will also help address the substantial fiscal pressures that an ageing population will incur, including the increased demand for government services and rising health costs."

Surely when the baby boomer generation retires, it should create wonderful opportunities for Australians to exercise their skills and be given opportunities here in Australia. The "skill gaps" should NOT exist if our education sector was funded adequately. "Fiscal pressures" of an ageing population? Surely it is young people who are more a drain on the economy, on health care and infrastructure? Our ageing population is a sign of success and stability, not a "pressure" or a drain. Replacing older people by young immigrants will create a demographic pyramid. Our baby boomer numbers were created initially by mass immigration in the 1950s and 60s, and by the post war number of births. How can sustainability be created by repeating the same thing now, with converging global threats of climate change, peak oil, and global meltdowns.

"The goal of the strategy is to improve the wellbeing of current and future generations of Australians through more effective recognition and management of the impacts of population changes, including size, composition and location."

Nothing mentioned of the environment, the energy crisis, our sprawling cities, diseconomies of scale and more importantly, that most people in Australia do not want a "big Australia'!

It seems that our government is now running a big firm, a company, a brand name, an Economy, rather than a sovereign nation for the benefit of citizens. We are being considered as employees, as resources rather than an integral part of our nation.