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Skilled migrants in SA business sights


Business SA has appointed migration expert Sherrie Gaskin to advise and advocate on behalf of firms that are struggling to attract skilled workers.

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The business lobby group is concerned by the state’s low share of skilled and commercial migration, and created the new role – migration manager – in an effort to help improve it.

Gaskin is a registered migration agent in South Australia.

“Many organisations are unsure how to go about recruiting skilled workers from overseas, which visas are available and what’s required,” said Gaskin.

“If we can focus on boosting skilled migration, we’ll also encourage more people to come to South Australia and in turn increase our population, which has also been lagging behind the eastern states.

“Business migrants can also bolster two-way trade.”

Gaskin said regional businesses often find it particularly difficult to find skilled workers, “and we know that when they’re embraced by a community, they provide a social and economic boost, often boosting schools and community clubs at the same time”.

“If we can help businesses when they need it the most, the whole state will benefit,” she said.

“We can also give employers a voice when talking to state and federal governments.”

Gaskin added that the Federal Government last year recognised South Australia’s unique economic and business challenges by introducing several regional visa options to facilitate skilled migration.

Business SA chief executive Martin Haese said it South Australia needed to boost skilled and business migration and that Gaskin would be a valuable asset for members and the wider business community.

Research from the University of Adelaide, released late last year, suggests and that many skilled migrants are not finding the opportunities they anticipated.

The survey of more than 1,700 skilled migrants living in South Australia found 53 per cent felt they were not utilising their skills and abilities, with 44 per cent working in a job different to what they nominated in their visa application.

You can read more about the study in The Conversation.

Addressing Parliament’s economic and finance committee in 2018, Department of Tourism, Trade and Investment principal policy officer Bevan Fletcher said South Australian employers were more likely than their interstate counterparts to choose staff through personal networks rather than by advertising positions – and that skilled migrants to South Australia faced discrimination in the form of hidden job vacancies.

He said South Australian employers more frequently select new employees through personal networks rather than through advertising, compared to employers in the eastern states.

“South Australia, unfortunately, has a lot (fewer) of its occupations advertised publicly, than what occurs in the eastern states, in the bigger markets,” said Fletcher at the time.

“That effectively blocks out people who are in the market and don’t have those networks.”

Fletcher added that skilled migrants were also disadvantaged because when employers do advertise vacancies, they often only accept candidates who are Australian citizens or permanent migrants.

“The majority of our skilled migrants coming through (are) provisional visa holders,” he said.

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