The head of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, has today called on the Federal Government to raise Australia’s skilled migration intake to cover so-called skilled labor shortages and help mitigate an ageing population:
The Australian Industry Group wants the Government to increase the immigration intake from 190,000 this financial year to 220,000 in 2014-15, with a particular focus on skilled migrants.
Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox says now is the right time to accelerate skilled migration given Australia’s ageing workforce and skills shortages in industries including mining, construction, engineering and health.
“The Australian Workplace Productivity Agency has identified that Australia will need an increase of about 2.8 million people with quite specific skills over the next decade to fill some of those gaps,” he said.
“We need to find ways to fill those gaps, and obviously we can train our own, but the quickest stop gap measure is to import skills.”
The short-termism on display across Australia never ceases to amaze. Instead of addressing skills shortages head-on via increasing education and training of the local workforce, the AIG is seeking to band-aid over the issue via ramping-up migration – which is already running at twice the long-run average level (see next chart) – even further!
Never mind the fact that such immigration would worsen Australia’s already large infrastructure deficit and risks lowering living standards for the pre-existing population, or that high population growth cannot alleviate the effects of an ageing population anyway.
No, this is classic rent-seeking behaviour by the AIG aimed squarely at lowering labour costs, with the broader community footing the bill indirectly via increased congestion, higher housing/utilities costs, and overall worsening living conditions.