Rob Burgess of Business Spectator argued that skilled immigration will help reduce unemployment The Burgess article starts with:
Monash demographer Bob Birrell led the charge against immigration, arguing in the Fairfax press that “… the number of overseas-born persons aged 15 plus in Australia, who arrived since the beginning of 2011, was around 709,000. Most of these people are job hungry.
“According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Survey, 380,000 of these recent arrivals were employed as of May 2014. Over the same three years, the net growth in jobs in Australia is estimated by the ABS to have been only 400,000.
However, the link between migration and jobless numbers is far more complex than this. Burgess says that the
logical disconnect is found when one considers what kinds of job openings exist, where they are located and the willingness of ‘pre-2011’ Australians (to use Birrell’s distinction) to take them.
In this context, Angela Chan, national president of the Migration Institute of Australia says that:
Employers in regional and remote Australia find it extremely difficult to fill positions with workers who have families, homes and lives in our capital cities – cities that house the unusually high figure of 85 per cent of our population.
Burges comments that
the explanation Chan gives gels exactly with stories many regionally-based MPs have told this columnist over the years – it is sometimes easier to employ Korean workers or recently arrived refugees in Alice Springs hospitality jobs than Australians. Or to employ Iraqis to pick fruit in Shepparton, for instance.
Perhaps even more important is the difficulty of getting medical staff, accountants, engineers or other skilled workers to regional Australia. Without enough of these people it can be difficult for businesses to attract and keep the people they need to keep the business going.
The Burgess article concentrated on the benefits Tasmania and regional parts of Australia. An obvious question is how many of the immigrants mentioned got jobs in the big city and how many of these filled jobs that could have been done by unemployed Australians or Australians who could have been promoted into the job? It is also worth asking to what extent immigration is necessary because Australian business finds it easier to import experienced workers rather than take the long term effort required to train and develop Australians?
In the past it has been argued that immigration is beneficial because the growing population stimulates the economy, and, in particular, stimulates house building.
We need to have a conversation about both the long and short term immigration rates