Cooks lead the way in Australia's skilled migration program

AUSTRALIA’S skilled migration program has been called into question with the revelation that cooks received more visas than any other group last year.

Hairdressers also made the top five in a system that is supposed to target the most needed skills for the nation.
More than 8000 cooks got permanent visas in 2012-13, followed by 5700 accountants, 2160 software engineers, 1550 IT business analysts and 1500 hairdressers.
Skilled migration is dominated by Indians and Chinese, who comprised about half of the 129,000 places approved last year.
Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell said the spike in visas for cooks and hairdressers was caused by allowing former foreign students who were living here to apply for permanent residency.
Dr Birrell said that these people were caught out by changes to the skilled migration rules but the Immigration Department had unwisely told them they could continue to apply for residency.
“Now that demand for migration is tapering off a bit they are obliged to deal with these applicants,” he said.
“They are filling up their quota with these warehoused applicants, that’s why we’re getting so many cooks.”
Dr Birrell said it was ridiculous to say that Australia had a highly skilled migration program. “The program has a life of its own and it’s continuing at very high levels notwithstanding the sharp downturn in the need for skilled migrants,” he said.
According to the department’s 2012-13 Migration Program Report, the skilled migration system focused on migrants to help fill critical skill needs, particularly in regional areas.
This included almost 50,000 places nominated by employers and state or territory governments, and 44,000 in the skilled independent category.
There were more than 114,000 applicants waiting to be processed for skilled migration as of June 30 last year.