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Immigration cuts will slow economy: Ai Group

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has hit out at government’s plan to cut the skilled migrant intake by 20,000 this financial year, claiming immigration is “one of the drivers of future economic growth”.

The government has decided to cut skilled migrant workers coming into the country by nearly 20,000 to 115,000 this year, mainly in the manufacturing and building sectors, which have been deemed ‘non-critical’ by being removed from the government’s critical skills list.

“Now is not the time to be cutting back on immigration, one of the drivers of future economic growth,” Ai Group chief executive, Heather Ridout, said.

“While pressures are building on employment, shortages remain critical in a number of skilled trades..

Ridout says the 457 visa program which is currently in operation provides a “very effective mechanism to address any fall in skilled labour demand”. She also says there have been significant falls in applications under the program in recent months.

“With the natural shock absorber provided by the 457 program, the general skilled migration program should maintain a long term focus on adding to the pool of trade skills that are essential to build the economy in the coming years,” she said.

“Further, with around three quarters of the Government’s Nation Building and Jobs Plan focused on infrastructure work, long term supply of construction and manufacturing skills in particular will be of critical importance.”

Ai Group believes that the immigration program makes a huge contribution to the economy, and says it will continue to fight for it.

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