Australia Taps Indian Migrants
By Ryan Rebutica
Indians are known to be motivated, speak good English and have the skills Australia needs desperately for its burgeoning economy.
Indeed, thanks to a chronic skills shortage in Australia, those with skills in computing, accountancy and engineering have become Australia’s fastest-growing group of migrants from Asia.
The number of migrants from India for the 12 months ending in June this year shot up to 11,286, a jump of 20 percent over the previous financial year, according to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.
In fact, India overtook China to become the third largest source of immigrants to Australia in all, after Britain and New Zealand.
“Indian migrants are attracted to Australia for the level of safety here, the weather conditions and also the job opportunities,” Dr Siddalingeswara Orekondy, the president of the United Indian Association, told The Sunday Times.
Doctors and other health-care professionals are also making the move to Australia as India’s reputation for producing a talented workforce continues to grow.
Australia’s biggest sources of migrants, because of their historical colonial ties, remained Great Britain and New Zealand.
Overall, 131,593 migrants arrived on Australian shores last year – up seven percent over the previous year.
While the number of migrants from India grew, those coming from China fell from 11,095 to 10,581.
After India and China, the Philippines was the fifth-biggest source of migrants, with 4,871 settlers. This was followed by Asian countries such as Malaysia at No 8 overall with 2,967 and Singapore at No 9 with 2,685 migrants.
The latest figures show that Australia is soaking up migrants at both ends of the skills spectrum as Canberra competes with other developed countries like the United States and Canada for global talent.
Most migrants from Britain, for example, were from higher-skilled jobs such as nurses, building and engineering professionals as well as managers. But a fair number were also blue-collar carpenters, electricians and hairdressers.
Most Indians were computing professionals, followed by sales and service workers, accountants, and engineers.
Macquarie University researchers Dr Selvaraj Velayutham and Dr Amanda Wise told The Sunday Times that Indian migrants were valued because they are English-educated and have skills in areas of shortage, such as IT, engineering and health services.
Among them are Shantanu Chakraborty who moved to Sydney from Mumbai five years ago.
“They do value me (at work) because within two years of joining them they’ve given me a partnership offer in the firm, which is brilliant,” the 32-year-old IT expert told the BBC .
The political hot potato, however, lies at the lower-skilled end ~ jobs in high demand such as carpenters, chefs, hairdressers and domestic housekeepers.
Critics have charged that the government has created a foreign “guest worker” system for blue-collar professionals by giving them short-term visas ranging from six months to four years.
Opposition leader Kim Beazley has accused the government of allowing foreign migrants to undercut wages and steal jobs from ordinary Australians.
Yet Chakraborty and his wife, and many other Indians like them, plan to stay put.
He said: “I don’t think I’m going to go back unless there’s something drastic happening on the other side of the world but now I’m here for life.”
- Straits Times/ANN
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