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Good, better, best…

By any measure the size of our skilled migration program is impressive. Last year almost 130 000 skilled visa holders settled in Australia—accounting for more than 60 per cent of all permanent places. Taking a longer term view, almost one million skilled visas have been issued in the past decade.

In a country of only 22 million, numbers of this scale have wide-ranging impacts. Part of our remit is to look beyond these facts and figures to examine how well new migrants are settling into our society. One way we do this is through the Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants (CSAM), a survey the department commissions to report on the labour market integration of recently arrived migrants.

See:  CSAM Fact Sheet

The good news is that latest findings from this survey are positive, indicating skilled migrants outperform the typical Australian.

For instance, at the six month stage, unemployment among skilled migrants sits at about five per cent, a figure on par with the national average. Given the dual challenges of competing for work in an unfamiliar labour market and adjusting to a new society, this is not a bad result.

An additional six months in Australia sees further improvement. Unemployment among the skilled cohort falls to about two per cent, the proportion in skilled work increases from 68 per cent to 73 per cent and average earnings increase by $4000per year.

Employment outcomes of skilled migrants and general population, six and 12 months after arrival/grant of visa

Moving from the general to the more specific, the CSAM also reveals three tiers of performance among different categories of skilled migrants.
In this category are onshore skilled independents, who are former international students who were accepted as skilled migrants at the end of their studies. Their relative youth makes them less competitive against older more experienced workers for well paying, highly skilled jobs. As a result many are either entering the professional labour market in entry level positions or are taking on less skilled work until something better comes along.
Those sponsored for skilled migration by state governments or family members fall into this group. As they are generally older and more experienced than onshore skilled independents they are more likely to be found in skilled work and earn $8000 more per year on average.
Given that their visa conditions require sponsorship in a full-time skilled job, it is reassuring, but hardly surprising that employer sponsored migrants appear in this category. Also featuring in this elite group are offshore independents. Their appearance is a pay-off for their qualifications, more extensive work experience, and the fact they don’t get any concessions in the General Skilled Migration points test, unlike state and family sponsored. These outcomes clearly support recent skilled migration reforms which gave emphasis to employer sponsored categories and highly skilled independent skilled migrants with workforce experience.
Employment outcomes by skill category at 12 months

Never let it rest…
While the CSAM provides evidence that support recent skilled migration reforms, it does reveal a diversity of employment outcomes.  In a wider context the needs of the Australian labour market are continually changing and the global competition for skills is increasing.  For these reasons there is an ongoing need to make continued use of this survey.
Until your good is better, and your better is your best
This will ensure that our skilled migration program and the range of policy tools such as the points test, the skilledoccupation List and SkillSelect which help in deciding its size and composition are delivering the workers Australia needs.
See:CSAM Cohorts 1 to 5 Report

Comments (2)


Hi David
Thank you for this post. I want to know when will DIAC release new information for SOL? And as you mentioned before, work is already in progress for the 2013–14 program, so what's differences between 2012-2013 program and 2013-2014 program? I heard that government will offer 5 more points to Australian qualification holders, is it true? Thank you very much.


Thank you for your questions.

Regarding information about the SOL - this information will become available in June 2013. Subject to approval from the Minister, the new SOL will then be put in place on 1 July 2013.
Information about the 2013-2014 Program will be made publically available on 14 May, the same date as the Federal Budget is handed down.

Regarding the issue of 5 more points for Australian qualification holders in the skilled migration points test, This was one of the 35 wide-ranging recommendations from the report Australia - Educating Globally. This report was prepared by the International Education Advisory Council for the government to provide advice on the challenges and opportunities facing international education. The government is considering the recommendations of the report and drawing on its findings to develop a strategy for a sustainable and quality international education in Australia.