Australia’s skills shortage
Give us your huddled masses, mate
May 29th 2008 | SYDNEY
From The Economist print edition
Where immigration is still booming
LAST time Australia’s airlines turned to other countries to recruit large numbers of pilots, the year was 1989 and they were trying to break an unprecedented strike by their own pilots. But when Jetstar, a low-cost carrier, revealed recently that it was planning to hire more than 75 pilots from Britain, America and South Africa, it was seeking a solution to a problem facing many employers across the country: a severe shortage of skilled labour.
With an economy in its 17th year of uninterrupted growth, Australia’s skills shortage has never been worse. People are crying out for plumbers, doctors and nurses. In states that are booming thanks to a mining bonanza—Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia—engineers, surveyors and truck drivers are in short supply. One state-owned water authority complains that it is losing truckers to mining companies offering A$100,000 ($96,000) a year—more than double their previous salary.
随着经济17年的持续发展，澳大利亚出现了前所未有的技工严重短缺问题。人们迫切需要水管工、医生和护士。许多州——西澳大利亚 州、昆士兰州和南澳大利亚州——因铜矿开采而迅速发展，工程师、勘测员和卡车司机已呈现不足。一国有水务局抱怨卡车司机正流向矿业公司。矿业公司每年向卡 车司机支付的工资是10万澳元 (9.6万美元) ，这是他们以往薪水的一倍。
In many rich countries where immigration is a politically sensitive matter—America, Britain and Ireland—the number of immigrants seems to be falling as the economy turns down. Not in Australia. The Labor government, under Kevin Rudd, is looking to increase the numbers of foreigners allowed to settle. His predecessor, John Howard, the former conservative leader, had already begun to increase the number, but had to pretend otherwise, since his party claimed to put “Australia first”. Mr Rudd is playing up the increases. On May 13th his government said that Australia would take 190,300 immigrants next year, a rise of 25% on this year. The biggest jump comes in the proportion of those chosen for their skills in a booming economy: at 133,500 they now account for a record 70% of the total intake.
随着经济的下滑，在许多富国，如美国，英国和爱尔兰，移民数量似乎正在下降，移民因此在政治上还是一个敏感问题。不 过，澳大利亚却并非如此。陆克文总统领导的工党政府正在增加移居澳大利亚外国人员的数量。前任保守党的领导人霍华德总统就已开始增加移民数量，但表面上却 不得不掩饰，因为保守党声称 “澳洲民众优先”。陆克文总统对增量大加渲染。在5月13日，陆克文政府表示澳大利亚在明年将会吸收19.03万移民，于今年上升了25%。在经济欣欣向 荣的情况下，需要技工的比例得到最大幅度攀升：13.35万人，前所未有地占到全部移民的70%。
These so-called “permanent” settlers tell only part of the story. With another 100,000 arrivals expected under a short-term visa scheme that allows employers to fill urgent job vacancies from outside Australia, the total intake is likely to be closer to 300,000. Other changes will make still more foreigners available for work. The government is abolishing a restriction enforced by the Howard government that meant illegal immigrants later found to be refugees could get only temporary permission to stay in Australia. And it is thinking about letting in guest workers from Pacific Island nations—a measure used successfully in New Zealand and which Mr Howard sternly opposed.
所谓“永久”移居者仅占部分内容。来 到澳大利亚另10万移民期望，在一份短期签证制度下，雇主被允许招收澳洲外部人员来填补急迫的职位空缺，因此移民总数可能会接近30万。其他变革将令更多 外国移民获得就业岗位。新政府正在废除霍华德政府强制执行的限制移民法令，此举意味着在获知非法移民是难民身份后，他们仍可获取临时居留澳大利亚的许可。 另外，新政府正考虑容许雇用太平洋岛国的外来劳工。此举遭到过霍华德总统的坚决反对，但在新西兰获得了成功。
The latest annual figures are the highest since Australia launched an immigration programme soon after the second world war. They also signal something of a revolution in the way Australia tackles this politically charged issue. Originally, immigration was a way to populate a big, empty country with “ten-pound Poms”, Britons who paid just £10 (then $27) to start a new life down under.
澳大利亚自二战以后实施了移民项目，最新年度数字已创新高。最新数字也发出类似革命的 信号，以解决澳大利亚在政治上争议很大的问题。最初，移民是移居国土辽阔，人口稀少“ten-pound Poms”的一个方式。不列颠人仅需支付10英镑(当时为27美元)便可在澳大利亚安家落户，开始新生活。
That approach, says Chris Evans, the immigration minister, was designed for a world in which people did not move much. Today, he argues, the country needs a policy fit for a world in which people move often for work. He points out that 500,000 people with “work rights” entered Australia last year: students and holiday-makers, as well as those on work visas. And the country still suffers skilled-labour bottlenecks.
澳 大利亚移民部长伊文斯(CHRIS EVANS)表示，这一方式为世界“量身定做”，人们可以不再多次东奔西跑。伊文斯认为，在今天，澳大利亚需要一种适合人们因工作经常在全球奔波的移民政 策。伊文斯还指出澳大利亚在去年吸收了具有“工作权” 的人员高达50万：学生和渡假游客，以及持有工作签证移民。不过，澳大利亚仍在遭受技工短缺的瓶颈问题。
Australia is in some respects paying a price for failing to invest in skills and infrastructure to meet the demands of what the Treasury calls a “once-in-50-years boom”. Not long ago, the sight of a Labor government bowing to demands from bosses and opening the gates to foreign workers would have produced howls of anguish from unions. Not now. With unemployment at a 30-year low, falling union membership and an ageing domestic workforce, the Rudd government can afford to be bold about using immigration as a tool of economic management. Mr Evans says that from now on immigration will play a bigger role in the “structure of Australia’s workforce”. He can probably count on Australians tolerating that—so long as the boom continues.
“50年一遇的快速发展” （财政部所言）正对技工需求加剧，但澳大利亚对技能培训和基础设施投入过少，从某种意义上来说，澳大利亚正因此而付出惨重代价。不久前，工党政府的观点因 企业老板对劳工的需求而得到转变，对外国劳工大开国门的做法还会引发工会怒气纷纷。不过，当前并无出现这一情况。在失业率创30年新低，工会成员数量减少 和国内劳工老龄化等情况的出现，陆克文政府能够大胆地用移民来用作管理经济的工具。伊万斯表示移民从现在起将会在“澳洲劳工构成”扮演一个更大的角色。只 要澳大利亚经济保持持续发展，伊万斯足以相信国内民众能够容忍一切。