CENTRAL West employers seeking skilled migrants will no longer have to wait in a queue as the Federal Government has decided to fast-track visa applications.
The move has been welcomed by the Western NSW Business Chamber and Orange Business Chamber as the population booms in the Central West’s major cities.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said regional employers and skilled migrants wanting to work in regions will be given access to priority processing on visa applications.
“There are a number of regions outside Sydney, Melbourne and South-East Queensland which are calling out for skilled migrants,” Mr Coleman said.
The Federal Government will send officials from the Department of Home Affairs to regional communities facing critical skill shortages.
Western NSW Business Chamber regional manager Vicki Seccombe said businesses in the Central West are facing a real challenge in securing qualified staff.
“Our unemployment rate in the Central West is 5.8 per cent and in Orana and the Far West it is three per cent,” Ms Seccombe said.
“The upcoming investment and infrastructure spend across the region is going to put additional pressure on finding skilled and semi-skilled workers.”
The Regional Australia Institute is predicting 243,865 new jobs will be created over the next three years in regional Australia.
Ms Seccombe said sectors such as hospitality (in particular, chefs), construction, health and education, and professional services like accountants and engineers are experiencing shortages.
“While this initiative announced by the Federal Government to fast-track skilled migrants to the regions is helpful, we really need to see more action in getting costs down for employers,” she said.
“That’s everything from the direct costs they [employers] have to pay in sponsoring a skilled migrant, to the ongoing costs of compliance.
“These have gone up substantially and are a major obstacle to employers who need to access skilled staff.”
The Federal Government said it will provide $19 million in additional funding to fast-track visa applications.
Orange Business Chamber president Ash Brown called it fantastic news.
“It will be better if the Federal Government also fast-tracks the visa applications of unskilled migrants,” Mr Brown said.
“Regional Australia is growing at a great pace. Orange is growing faster in population than cities like Adelaide, Newcastle and Hobart.
“With growth like that, we need more people to fill positions in health and government departments.
“We also need labour in unskilled areas like the building sector and household service sector.”