Australian to target Asia's skilled workforce

Australian to target Asia's skilled workforce Melbourne: Riding on an ambitious plan to tap Asian region, Australia is all set to woo highly skilled population from the region including in India in a bid to create an educated, productive work force to boost its economy.

According to minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Bowen, the government in its 'Asian Century White Paper' released yesterday, has highlighted the opportunities for the nation's growth by building deeper and stronger links with Asian reigon.

"Even with the government's unprecedented investment in tertiary education and up-skilling Australians, we need migrants who bring their specialist skills to Australia," he said.

Seven of the top 10 source countries in Australia's 2011-12 migration programme are in the Asian region: India, China, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam.

The Indian sub-continent is Australia's largest source region of migrants, providing 23 percent of the migration program, while 18.3 percent of migrants come from the north of Asia.

"More than a quarter of our nation's migrants were born in an Asian nation and nearly 1.5 million Australians are fluent in one or more Asian languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Punjabi, Indonesian, Korean, Tagalog and Japanese," Bowen said.

"This means that Australia is uniquely placed to strengthen ties with Asian nations."

So the country is "increasingly looking to Asia for skilled migrants who are crucial to the nation's economy and the development of business opportunities in the region", he said.

With Tourism as one of the focus, it was said that new streamlined visa processes will encourage more people from the region to consider Australia as a destination of choice.

"We are making it easier than ever for tourists from the Asian region to visit Australia and contribute to our economic and cultural growth," Bowen said.

"We need to be able to take advantage of the expected increase in regional travel across Asia and the subsequent emerging tourist markets," he added.

To facilitate this, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is expanding its network of service and delivery partners to support online visa lodgement, multiple entry visas and longer visa validity periods.

"Visitors from China are of particular focus and the 2011 Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen tourism cooperation between our countries will support a growing travel market," Bowen said.

Students from abroad boost Australia's economy by billions every year.

"We want to ensure that future leaders in the Asian region who are educated at our world-class institutions have positive experiences, fostering people-to-people links and supporting the cultural ties that protect our nation's interests in the region," Bowen said.

Streamlining the student visa assessment process will make it easier for people who want to study here, while post-study work rights for bachelor degree and PhD graduates will encourage skilled people to contribute to Australia's development, he said.

"He said that the rise of Australia's close neighbours has the potential to greatly benefit the nation over the coming century.

"The Gillard (Julia) Government's improvements to our migration systems and visa processes will mean that we are well prepared to welcome people from across Asia who will contribute to our economy and culture."

PTI