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New 'Skills' List leaves families in limbo
Old 25th July 2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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Default New 'Skills' List leaves families in limbo

KIM Jennings loves her country, but says at the moment she is embarrassed to be an Australian.

A group of Ms Jennings’ friends moved from the United Kingdom to Australia three years ago seeking a better life for their families.

However, they may be forced to return to their native England because of changes removing a slew of skilled jobs from the Immigration Department’s “wish list”.

“They came out here and did all their homework beforehand,” Ms Jennings, who lives at Caloundra, said.

“At the time bricklayers were identified as being in need in the Australian workforce, so they got their student visas and enrolled in a two-year course.

“Now bricklaying has been removed from the skilled labour list, leaving them in limbo.”

The families have settled on the Sunshine Coast, bought homes and enrolled their children in school.

Ms Jennings said they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars “doing the right thing and following the letter of the law”, only to have it “thrown back in their faces”.

“It makes me embarrassed to be Australian to think our government can treat people, who have spent so much time getting here through the front door, like this,” she said.

“They have done everything the government has asked of them and put so much money into the economy. Suddenly they’re being told it’s not enough.

“They’ve not bled the government for a thing. It’s like they’re forgotten people.”

Ms Jennings said some of her friends were considering returning to Britain where they had nothing, after spending their life savings coming to Australia.

In May, Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans, announced a new skilled occupation list was being designed to deliver highly skilled migrants and crack down on people seeking permanent residency through low-value education courses.

Mr Evans said the list, developed by the independent body Skills Australia and containing 181 highly valued occupations, would ensure Australia’s skilled migration program was demand-driven rather than supply-driven.

“We intend to fundamentally change the way we target skilled migrants to restore integrity to the skilled migration program,” Mr Evans said.

“Australia’s migration program cannot be determined by the courses studied by international students.

“International students, who have the skills our economy needs, will still be able to apply for permanent migration or be nominated by employers.

“But we will no longer accept the thousands of cooks and hairdressers, who applied under the guidelines established by the Howard government.”

Mr Evans said people who completed short courses in vocations such as cooking and hairdressing were “almost assured” of gaining permanent residence as a skilled migrant under the previous government.

The new skilled occupation list came in on July 1.

It replaces the old list of more than 400 occupations.


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