Federal Government set to maintain record high immigration levels

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THE Federal Government is set to maintain record high immigration levels, despite growing concern about the impact on young job seekers and urban congestion.

The Rudd Government has admitted it wants to bring in up to 230,000 migrants annually over the next 40 years, according to a new Immigration Department report on skilled arrivals.

This is about the same number as last year's record intake, which was cut by 18,000 places amid the global recession.

Australia needed to maintain an annual migration intake of between 150,000 and 230,000 people to deal with the ageing of the workforce, said the issues paper, Select Skills: Principles for a New Migration Occupations in Demand List.

"Within the framework, it will be important that those skilled migrants we choose are not only young and healthy, but also have a high level of education, language and skills," it said.

Monash University demographer Dr Bob Birrell said yesterday the latest data showed that young Australians were losing jobs as migrants streamed in.

The number of employed 15 to 24-year-olds fell by 100,000 to 1,818,000 in the year to July, Dr Birrell said.

"The real brunt of the fall in jobs is being felt by young people," he said.

"Yet the Federal Government is barrelling on with its big migration numbers."

Dr Birrell said Australia could deal with its ageing workforce problem through better training and smarter work practices.

A major poll taken after the latest federal election revealed growing concern about high migration, with more than 40 per cent of Victorians wanting it cut.

This was way above the 27 per cent who wanted a reduction during a 2004 survey. It is believed that rising concern about jobs, urban congestion and water shortages is driving negative attitudes towards migration. continues here

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