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Engineers challenge Minister over Skilled Occupation listing

15 September, 2016

The Government continues to allow companies to source engineers from overseas when thousands of Australian based engineers struggle to find work.

The Association of Professional Engineers Australia (APEA) is challenging Minister Peter Dutton to justify why engineering professions remain on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), stating the decision contradicts the Government’s own advice and data.

"Minister Dutton has either overlooked his Government’s own statistics, is misinformed or is bowing to powerful pressure groups which benefit from cheap skilled migration”, said APEA CEO Chris Walton.

"There is no reason for engineering professions to remain on the Skilled Occupation List, and we call on the Minister to explain the ongoing presence of engineers on the SOL.”

In 2015 the Department of Education and Training which is responsible for administering the SOL recommended that every engineering profession should be removed from the list for the 2015-2016 period.

Despite the professions being flagged for removal and Department of Employment statistics showing no engineering skills-shortage in Australia since 2012-13, Minister Dutton has re-listed every engineering profession except mining.

"We are increasingly seeing industry turn to cheaper skilled migration as the preference to meet the demands of patchy infrastructure procurement rather than engaging in proper workforce development” said Mr Walton.

"It is firmly our view that the government must invest in a vibrant domestic workforce, including addressing unemployment among graduates and overseas-born engineers.”

APEA has written to the Minister seeking a formal explanation and has called for support from the engineering community. To-date more than 1000 supporters have added their names to the letter.

According to the submissions, many engineers feel severely disadvantaged by the current situation and support APEA’s request for the Government to focus more on workforce development and less on satisfying big business interests.

"Skilled migration is to meet shortfalls in resource requirements, not to provide further opportunities for multinationals to under-cut local employment standards seeking to extend profit margins,” one supporter told Professionals Australia.

APEA have represented Australian engineers since 1946, and will continue to campaign for the removal of engineering professions from the SOL to better reflect the interests of local engineers and support the domestic labour market.

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