Australia's migrant intake to be more 'English'

AUSTRALIA'S migrant intake is set to become more "English" and less Asian because of a tough language test.

An Immigration Department report says fewer than one in five skilled migrants comes from major English background nations such as Britain, the United States, South Africa and Canada.

The skilled program is dominated by people from Asian countries including India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka -- many of whom struggle with English. "This selection strategy has profound implications for employment outcomes in a knowledge economy," the report said.

But report author Prof Lesleyanne Hawthorne, from Melbourne University, said yesterday that things would change when tougher English standards for skilled migrants were introduced by the Federal Government from July 1.

Prof Hawthorne said people with high English fluency would get extra points and employer-sponsored migrants would move to the front of the queue. "So we will see a high proportion of our skilled migrants in the next few years from English-speaking backgrounds," she told the Herald Sun.

The make-up of the skilled migration program was being strongly influenced by employers, who tended to pick Anglo-background workers for temporary skilled visas. "Employers ... in the knowledge economy are picking people basically from OECD countries," she said.

The report, prepared for the Immigration Department, compared the skilled migration policies of Australia and New Zealand. It found that in recent years about 17 per cent of skilled migrants to Australia were from Anglo-background nations compared with almost half in NZ.


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