‘Nonsense’: tradies left off skilled migration list

The inclusion of yoga instructors and dog handlers on a draft list of priority migrant skills in the middle of a housing crisis has been labelled as nonsense by the federal opposition.

Trades, including plumbers and bricklayers, remain under consideration as the government struggles to meet its plan to building 1.2 million new homes by the end of the decade because of a skills shortfall.

But wellness professionals have been included on Jobs and Skills Australia’s “confident on list” for a skills migration stream.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton criticised their inclusion, saying the wrong professions were being prioritised.

“The government now is putting at the top of the list yoga teachers and knocking off the list carpenters, bricklayers and other tradespeople. It’s a nonsense, this government is a walking disaster,” he told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

“(Trades people) would be at the top of our list, we want to see more of those trades coming in because, as everyone knows, the cost to build a house in our country has gone up dramatically … people can’t find a builder for love or money.”

Master Builders Australia chief executive Denita Wawn said she was “flummoxed” by the draft proposal.

“We cannot build homes with wellness instructors,” she told reporters.

“We need tradies and they must be on the definite list for skilled migration.

“We have focused on tertiary education at the expense of vocational education and training.

“People going through a trade are treated as second-class citizens in this country. Enough is enough.”

Australia was competing with other countries including the UK and Canada to attract skilled migrants, said Ms Wawn, and was disadvantaged without a fast-tracked system.

The federal budget in May allocated $1.8 million to streamline and fast-track skills assessments for about 1900 potential migrants with qualifications in construction and housing, and for the processing of evaluations for new arrivals in targeted occupations.

Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor said the shortfalls were “deep” across the labour market.

“The Albanese government knows that apprentices need more support, not less support,” he told parliament on Tuesday.

“When it comes to skills … the employer bodies have said that the opposition leader has no clue, they called his budget reply a momentous act of economic self-harm.”


Tess Ikonomou and Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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