Devpolicy Talks

How to meet Australian demand for Pacific foreign vocational workers

Episode Summary

Recent moves to develop a coherent policy to attract immigrants with less extensive formal training and education to Australia have thrown up numerous questions, such as how many vocational workers are needed, and how to link skill creation with skill mobility.

Episode Notes

Historically, Australia has lacked a coherent policy to attract immigrants with less extensive formal training and education, despite the needs of its ageing population and labour market. 

The Center for Global Development has recently concluded a project with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which has produced two papers. Michael Clemens outlines the findings of the first paper, which estimates the demand for vocational workers in Australia by 2050 will exceed native supply by over two million. While there will be ample skilled labour available within Pacific Island countries, facilitating this movement in a managed way that maximises the development potential of migration will be key. To that end, Satish Chand discusses the second paper, which proposes the development of a ‘Pacific Skills Partnership’, a model that would facilitate skills creation across 14 low-income Pacific Island countries, with the greatest development potential lying in Papua New Guinea.


Michael Clemens is Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies the economic effects and causes of migration around the world. 

>> Related paper:  Skill Development and Regional Mobility: Lessons from the Australia-Pacific Technical College – Working Paper 370

Satish Chand is a Professor of Finance in the School of Business at the University of New South Wales and based at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University. His research interests include labour migration, fragile states, and the challenges of development.

>> View presentation

>> Related paper: A Pacific Skills Partnership: Improving the APTC to Meet Skills Needed in the Region

Dr Ryan Edwards, Deputy Director, Development Policy Centre, The Australian National University

Photo: Hohola Youth Development Centre, PNG (DFAT/Flickr CC BY 2.0)