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Australia Skilled Immigration SOL Occupation List

From The Conversation in Australia: 

Governments play flawed ‘skilled jobs’ guessing game.  Governments in most countries, including Australia, often feel the need to predict which skills will be in demand and match them with increased supply largely through education planning and migration.



It’s a desire that has caused recent controversy, following calls by the Employment Department for changes to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).

While intuitively it seems a useful thing to do, workforce planning has a chequered history, particularly with respect to formal modelling, of not being particularly successful….

… Also, there is not a great deal of matching between qualifications, skills and occupations, apart from certain exceptions such as medicine. In most of the skilled occupations only a minority pursue a lengthy career in their field of qualification. Even graduates from the most vocational courses, such as the trades, do not tend to stay in the associated occupation for the whole of their career.


Choice matters

The labour market is characterised by a great deal of substitution between occupations and mobility of people between jobs, which makes trying to match people with qualifications to jobs in demand impossible even if the projections of demand were right…


Migration needs a long-term focus

Skilled people wishing to migrate permanently to Australia, with recognised qualifications and English language competency, usually have good career prospects in Australia even if they don’t get work in the exact field they want to on arrival. Adding a particular occupation to the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) is not a bad indicator of where there will be a labour surplus by the time you arrive….

…. Now, failure to meet English language requirements and or work requirements greatly diminishes the prospects of residency. The current system with the SOL list, while an improvement, still has the potential to wreak havoc in Australia’s education export industry because student decisions are driven by migration considerations.

Short-run skill shortages are best met bytemporary migration such as working holiday-makers and people on 457 visas. Employers are the best people to know where it is difficult to meet labour shortages through local recruitment and hire people from overseas with relatively quick and cheap immigration processing.

Basing permanent migration on short-term shortages, such as for skilled tradespeople during a mining boom, is precisely what the economy doesn’t need.

Perhaps it’s time to drop the SOL and base permanent migration on recognised qualifications (in general rather than specific areas) and English language competence – the best indicators of employability.


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