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Push to remove engineering from Australia’s skilled occupations list


Professionals Australia has asked the federal government to “put Australians first” by removing engineers from the list of skilled occupations for migrants.

Based on figures from the Department of Employment, there has not been a skills shortage in engineering since 2012-13, and the number of engineering job vacancies is low, while the migration of engineers to Australia remains high.

“Engineering job vacancies are at an all-time low, yet in 2015/16, record numbers of skilled engineers migrated to Australia,” Professionals Australia chief executive Chris Walton told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“That’s not fair to Australian graduate engineers who study for four years at significant expense and then struggle to find a job.”

However, Engineers Australia has argued that due to the cyclical nature of the engineering employment market, the profession should remain on the skilled occupations list.

“Engineering has a highly cyclical employment market, and long-term migration is a method of moderating this boom/bust cycle,” Engineers Australia chief executive Stephen Durkin told SMH.

“In the face of static and very slowly growing domestic engineering graduations over recent decades, maintaining a long-term pipeline of skilled migrants is critical if Australia wants a sustainable domestic engineering workforce.”

Walton criticised Engineers Australia’s stance, accusing the organisation of being biased due to the fact that 18 per cent of its revenue comes from the migration skills assessments it conducts for the Department of Immigration.

Durkin argued that Engineers Australia provides this service on a not-for-profit basis, and suggested that Professionals Australia, as a union, has an interest in forcing a skills shortage to reduce supply, drive up costs and artificially inflate wages.


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