Emigration from Australia is big and not inconsequential!

ImageWhen people leave a country, it is called emigration. When they come to a country, it is called immigration.

In case of Australia, emigration has increased significantly since mid 1990s. 91 761 left Australia in 2012-13. 52.7% of these people were born overseas. This was 51.1 % a year earlier. Rest were Australia-born.

People born in NZ formed the biggest component (10%) of emigration of overseas-born migrants, followed by UK-born (8.2%), China-born (7%), Hong Kong-born (2.7%) and then USA-born (1.4%) people.

A majority of these overseas-born emigrants returned to the country of their birth. Majority of these people had lived in Australia for more than 5 years.

Emigration of Australia-born was largely (44%) to UK, USA and NZ, followed by Singapore, Hong Kong and UAE, and was largely for better jobs/incomes.

62.9% of total emigrants were in skilled jobs before they left.

Emigration is not just a simple movement of people from Australia. It has an impact on multiple fronts as it creates not only a significant change in overall population, but it also creates loss of skills in addition to lack of return on the investment-social or otherwise on these people. On the benefit side, it generates trading links between Australia and the countries these emigrants are going to, facilitates access to markets in those countries, increases remittances from those countries, in addition to bringing back new skills if/when these emigrants return back to Australia.

What can be done to reduce emigration:

While it is true that many factors operate for why people emigrate. While some people leave Australia for family reasons, it is presumed that economic reasons will be pretty important too. Some serious research is needed to have a better understanding about this matter

Anecdotally, and if you speak with migrants, many express a particular concern, which needs some attention by policy makers and Govt leaders.

Many highly skilled migrants find it difficult to get a job which is commensurate with their education and skills. Lack of local (Australian) experience is often quoted to deny the jobs which they deserve and are qualified for. There is often a glass-ceiling. This can/should be changed with a systemic approach to help skilled migrants get a job for which they are well qualified. They can be under some supervision for 3-6 months, if necessary.

Employers can/should be given some incentives to employ these highly qualified and skilled migrants. It does not make any sense to attract skilled migrants to Australia and do nothing to help them settle in the country or in fact do something which discourages them to stay here.

To not do anything to help them settle in Australia has an adverse impact not only on our economy because these migrants have much needed skills which they take away with them while moving away to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, UAE and other countries, but also it causes serious impact on migrants themselves with many experiencing disillusionment and even depression.

This is an important issue for Australia. Westpac research (see Jennifer West’s comments in the article link) outlines that newer migrants generate 200 billions annually, which is not a small amount by any count. It’s about time that Immigration Dept and Employment Departments of various State/Territory Govts should look into this matter seriously.

This topic was covered by Australian media (Lisa Cornish) recently, for which I was interviewed.

http://mobile.news.com.au/national/australias-migrants-leaving-their-new-home-in-search-of-a-better-life/story-fncynjr2-1226810397650

Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/28th Jan, 2014

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