Monday, February 21, 2011

UK experiencing a shortage of engineers

Ignacio Galan, the chief executive officer of Iberdrola SA, which owns Scottish Power Ltd has said recently that UK plans to develop renewable energy and improve power-generation and transmission systems will be serious affected by the shortage of engineers. Galan said that 80 percent of Scottish Power's engineers are likely to retire in the next 15 years.

Vince Cable the UK Business Secretary in the UK Coalition Government has also raised the issue of shortages of engineers in the UK.

Vince Cable said the following in a speech at the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in September 2010:
"Businesses cannot grow because of a shortage of trained workers while our schools churn out young people regarded by companies as virtually unemployable. The pool of unemployed graduates is growing while there is a chronic shortage of science graduates and especially engineers."

Moreover, the aerospace industry in the UK is threatened by a shortage of engineers, according to the British Business Secretary, Vince Cable.

"There is a chronic shortage of advanced engineers - a terrible shortage. There are different ways of supporting an industry without just injecting cash," Cable said as he toured the Farnborough Airshow in July 2010.

Cable has been a vocal opponent of the UK's immigration cap -- both the interim cap that went into effect in the summer of 2010 and the permanent cap set to start in April of 2011.

He helped support a provision that exempted Intra-Company Transfers from the Tier 2 visa cap; He still feels that reducing immigration will harm the UK's global competitiveness.

The Tier 1 highly skilled immigration programme will in effect end in April 2011. This will make it even more difficult for Britain's high tech and engineering sector to recruit suitable staff.

The aerospace industry is not the only sector facing labour shortages Manufacturing companies in the UK are also finding it difficult to recruit skilled workers; Needed as demand for goods rose 4% in the 12 months leading to June 2010.

Manufacturing grows in the UK, firms struggle to find skilled workers

The UK manufacturing sector grew by 4 percent in the 12 months leading to June 2010, twice the amount of the financial sector during the same period. But over 500 jobs remain unfilled.

Employers are complaining that the regional workforce do not have the skills to fill these positions, with those who do possess the skills working abroad.

The manufacturing sector is coming out of a downturn that was relatively short-lived.

"A year ago, we were in serious trouble," said a Sembcorp employee. "Since then, things have started to pick up a bit."

Many companies are struggling to fill posts, including Elring Klinger, an engineering firm based out of Kirkleatham. During the recession the company was forced to lay off 50 workers. Now that the UK is starting to come out of the recession, the firm is finding it unexpectedly difficult to refill their ranks.

Between now and 2016, approximately 11,000 new workers will be needed in manufacturing, engineering, and science, according to research by Semta, the sector skills council.

The planned immigration cap will likely make it more difficult for firms to find the help they need, although many are expected to take advantage of Tier 2 visas to shore up skills gaps.

UK recruiting doctors from India

The BBC reports that the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is recruiting junior doctors from India in an attempt to head off a shortage caused by tighter immigration rules brought in over the last few years.

"We pulled the plug on overseas recruitment far too quickly," said Professor Derek Gallen, postgraduate dean of medical training for Wales.

"[We didn't] realise what the implications of that action would be two, three or four years down the line," he added.

The Welsh Deanery is one of four medical training schools across the UK which has been recruiting in India this year.

The medical training schools are trying to recruit in the areas of paediatrics, obstetrics, gynaecology, anaesthesia, as well as accident and emergency.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Canberra, Australia lures skilled migrants

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government will send "Live in Canberra" delegations to Amsterdam, London, Cape Town, Durban, Dublin, and Johannesburg in an attempt to attract skilled migrants to the Australian capital.

The Live in Canberra program will travel to these cities between 9 February and 28 February 2011. The program will work in conjunction with the ACT Government's Skilled and Business Migration Program to promote opportunities in Canberra and the lifestyle of the city.

"The campaign will incorporate one immigration expo and 15 targeted skilled and business migration seminars," said Jon Stanhope, Chief Minister for the ACT.

"One-on-one meetings are scheduled in each city with skilled workers considering a move to Canberra and with locally based migration agents wishing to promote Canberra's opportunities to their clients," he added.

"The team will speak to people with skills that are in demand in Canberra's local industries including health, building and construction, finance, administration, management, engineering and [Information and Communications Technology (ICT)].

According to Stanhope, the ACT's economy ranks first in Australia and unemployment is close to record lows. He stated that Canberra must "continue to attract a steady flow of skilled workers to ensure our economy maintains its momentum."

UK closes consultation on student immigration; Tighter controls likely

For some non-EU citizens who wish to study in the UK, applying now for a student visa may be advisable. The UK Government concluded a consultation on stricter student immigration rules on 31 January 2011. Immigration Minister Damien Green has said recently that stricter regulations are "in the best interest of legitimate students".

According to the UK Border Agency, the eight-week consultation received over 30,000 responses. The consultation proposed a number of measures for curbing UK student immigration, including:
  • reducing the number of people coming to the UK to study at 'below degree' level
  • introducing tougher English language requirements
  • making students prove academic progression to extend their visa
  • limiting student work-rights and reducing the circumstances under which a student can bring family members to the UK
  • implementing a stricter accreditation process for educational institutions, with more rigorous inspections
Presumably, many of the responses to the consultation were from people working in the education sector who stand the lose under stricter student immigration rules. The education sector is a 5 billion pound-per-year industry in the UK and depends heavily on higher fees paid by international students who come to study on a Tier 4 (Student) visa.

In a speech to the Reform Think Tank conference in London, Green said that he recognised the importance of student immigration to the UK's economy, but that he wanted to eliminate abuses in the system; He mentioned disreputable colleges as being a problem.

"Some of those who come to study at less reputable institutions are genuinely in search of education which they do not receive," Green said.

"They may have been misled by questionable agents overseas or by these colleges. In either case, unsuspecting students may end up out of pocket, without the education they wanted and stuck illegally in the UK," he added.

Green said the Government would "do nothing to prevent those coming here to study degree level courses", although its unclear whether some or all of the proposed measures -- such as family re-unification and work rights -- would apply to those studying degree level courses.

The UK Border Agency said the results of the consultation would be announced in the coming weeks.

Bulgaria to benefit from EU Blue Card

Starting on 1 June 2011, highly skilled workers from outside the European Union can apply to work in Bulgaria under the EU Blue Card scheme. The blue card would allow a skilled worker with a job offer to take employment in member states under the directive. It may also be possible to work in more than one EU member state using the same Blue Card.

"[One of the] requirements for a non-EU citizen to get a blue card are a higher education certificate," said Hristo Simeonov of the Bulgarian Ministry of Social Policy and Labour.

Many European companies, including Bulgaria, are experiencing shortage of highly qualified and highly skilled workers.

The EU Commission has given EU member states until 1 July to implement the blue card directive. Not every member state will take part in the program. For example the UK is one Country that will not allow entry of people under the Blue Card scheme.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Zealand education sector booming thanks to overseas students

Students from countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, and Vietnam are contributing to huge growth in New Zealand's education industry.

The New Zealand education industry brought in $664 million more in student fee income than it did in the previous year. According to the Department of Labour's migration trends report, this included a 10 percent overall growth in revenue from international students.

What is surprising is that the total number of students entering New Zealand on student visas actually dropped slightly. The number of Chinese students dropped last year, continuing a downward trend since 2003 when they represented 47 percent of international students in New Zealand.

However, students from Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and India increased in 2010.
"India has become the largest source country of new international students to New Zealand, but China remains the single largest source country of international students," the report said.

"Over 73,400 international students were approved to study in New Zealand in 2009-10 with export education contributing over $2.3 billion annually to the economy."

Australian Capital Territory maintains high levels of immigration

The Australian Capital Territory maintained a high level of immigration during the 2009-10 fiscal year. Each year in the last two years more than 1850 people have chosen to emigrate to Canberra.

The Australian Capital Territory, home of Australia's capital city, is the nation's smallest state/territory.

The numbers are above the average annual level over the last ten years but did not reach the record of 1942 immigrant arrivals in 2008-09.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the Australian Capital Territory is a popular destination for migrants; Steadily increasing in popularity since 1999-00 when only 809 people immigrated to the Australian state.

DIAC also stated that immigration across the Country decreased slightly compared to the previous year. Latest figures show that 140,610 people emigrated to Australia.

"The numbers of settler arrivals are now near the level they were in 2006-07," a departmental spokesperson said.

New Zealand and China have become the top source Countries for people immigrating to Australia, followed by the United Kingdom, India, and South Africa.

"The Australian Government has undertaken a series of strategic reforms of the skilled migration program, to make it more responsive to Australia's labour market demands," the spokesperson said.

"These reforms are about selecting the best and brightest people from a large pool of potential migrants."
Australia plans to increase the number of skilled migrant places in its immigration program in 2010-11, which will lead to skilled immigration representing 67.5 percent of Australia's total immigration intake.

'Brain gain' pilot project launched in Ontario

Non Canadian family members of Canadians in the education and health sector will be able to start work on arrival in Ontario; Instead of waiting in some cases for a year there will be immediate work rights on arrival for the non-Canadian spouses, common law partners, and dependent children of Canadian citizens under a new pilot project.

"It's a reverse brain drain," said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney. "We're making it easier for Canadians abroad to bring their skills home and contribute to the Canada of tomorrow."

Normally, non-Canadian immediate family members of Canadian citizens returning home must wait between six months and one year before receiving permanent residence and thus the right to work.

However, since 22 November 2010, family members of Canadian citizens and permanent residents returning home to work in Ontario in the health care and academic sectors have been able to get temporary work permits as soon as they arrive in Canada.

The health care and academic field have experienced severe labour shortages in Canada.

The project -- part of the 2008 Temporary Foreign Worker agreement between the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario -- is operating on a trial basis until 22 May, 2012. The government will then evaluate the initiative's effectiveness.

"By encouraging highly-skilled workers to come back to Canada, we are laying the foundation for long-term economic growth," Kenney added.