9 Feb 2010

Skilled migrants sought by Australia

6:05 am on 9 February 2010

Australia has announced policy changes to attract more highly skilled workers.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans has criticised a trend for new arrivals to sign up for cookery or hairdressing courses to gain residency.

Mr Evans said on Monday that Australia would abolish the current list of 106 skills in demand and review a points test used to assess migrants.

His comments were welcomed by the mining sector, which is struggling to meet China's demand for raw materials.

Mr Evans told ABC radio the new immigration intake would focus on health workers, including more doctors and nurses, as well as engineering and mining.

The BBC reports the mining sector in Australian is struggling to find thousands of people to work at major companies like BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto as they expand to meet China's growing demand for resources.

Last year 170,000 people applied to live and work permanently in Australia as skilled migrants, but Mr Evans said the nyumber of places available was 108,100.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that 4.4 million people in Australia were born overseas.