THE IMMIGRATION BILL: SEEKING SKILLS

May 22, 2007

Starting in the mid 1980s, Australia shifted from a "family" immigration policy to one meant to bring in workers who would answer the country's economic needs.  The new system identifies the jobs most in demand and rewards applicants who have experience in those fields and who have overall skills, such as language proficiency.  The results have been dramatic, says Steven Malanga, senior editor for the City Journal.

Consider:

  • Where 70 percent of Australia's immigration used to be based on family relations, now 70 percent is based on the applicants' skills.
  • Economic assimilation is much more rapid; one recent study found that, five years after arrival, the typical immigrant earns as much as the average native-born Australian.
  • In America, by contrast, studies show a wide gap between the earnings of immigrants and those of native-born workers -- a gap that is growing larger over time as our immigrant population increasingly lacks the education and skills to make it in our specialized economy.

Shifting to this skilled-based system has made Australia a powerful player in the worldwide scramble for talent and skills.  Its former immigration minister has boasted that the country is "beating the United States" and other industrialized countries in recruiting efforts.

Source: Steven Malanga, "The Immigration Bill: Seeking Skills," New York Post, May 21, 2007.

 

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