Thursday, May 18, 2006

Failing skills

Some people in Australia seem to believe that skills shortages can be filled through migration from developing countries. Not all employer groups, though, are so keen.

There is, for instance, the case of the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), which represents 5000 employers. Last year the VACC made a submission to a Government migration committee. The submission revealed the problems experienced by employers in bringing in workers from non-Western countries.

One of these problems is the difficulty in verifying the qualifications and experience claimed by such applicants. According to the VACC,

A reliable method of verification and practical assessment is not possible from Australia.

However, travelling outside Australia to verify an applicant’s qualifications is also impractical:

This process ... Is a costly one which for most employers is not possible.

The issue of qualifications is not as difficult with applicants from Western countries as,

… the capacity to assess the skills and training of individuals trained in the UK, US and Western Europe is significantly easier due to the similarity of qualifications, educational structures and educational/training guidelines


The experience with underdeveloped countries is a difficult process as educational and social structures are most often unlike those in Australia.

There is also a problem of adequate levels of English:

For many trade occupations, employers have also commented that a comprehension of English is required … tradespeople are often required to be competent in researching technical details in manuals or to communicate with manufacturers.

What all this means is that some “skilled” migrants from developing countries have only been able to perform unskilled tasks:

Some experiences of dealerships that have recruited recent immigrants with mechanical trade qualifications from underdeveloped countries have found that their level of diagnostic competence in current vehicles is insufficient. As a result, these individuals have been relegated to work of a process nature; this has been an unsatisfactory outcome for the dealership and the immigrant.

Of course, migrants should not be selected on economic grounds alone anyway. For traditionalist conservatives, the issue of maintaining an existing national identity is of more importance. However, what the VACC submission shows is that even the economic benefits are questionable, as the selection of workers from developing countries has created a number of difficulties for employers.

No comments:

Post a Comment