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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February 2005, 16:17 GMT
System to point way to Australia
Australian immigration stamp
Australia attracts 100,000 migrants each year
The home secretary has announced a points system for immigrants like the one used in Australia - but how does it work and how well would it apply to the UK?

Each year around 100,000 people migrate to Australia - around 0.5% of its population.

In response, the government there set up a points system as one way for people to apply to migrate to Australia, in order to attract those with the skills it felt it most wanted.

So how does it work?

The pass mark, depending on whether you are sponsored by a relative who is already an Australian citizen or permanent resident, is either 110 points or 120.

Accountant 60
Dentist 60
Librarian 50
Chef 60
Bricklayer 60
Cheesemaker 60
Youth worker 40
Mine Deputy 40

There is an emphasis on tradespeople - or jobs where specific training it needed.

Applicants must also meet basic requirements such as work experience, age and English language ability.

This means you must be under 45, and have recent work experience in a skilled occupation of between 12 and 24 months (depending on the skill in question).

Applicants must also take an English test.

There is a long list of skilled jobs with designated points according to their "attractiveness" in which you must have had experience. For example an estate agent gets 40 points and a electrician 60.

You are awarded points for other factors, such as whether you have an Australian qualification and if you have a capital investment in the country.

So who gets in and who does not? Here are two examples:

Construction worker
John is 44 and has worked in the construction industry since he left school at 16. He started work as a bricklayer and then was a carpenter. For the last 10 years he has been a building inspector.

He has a wife, Irene, 43, a housewife, and two children who are both students and intend to stay in the UK.

They have no relations in Australia, but fancy a life-change. They have savings of 10,000 plus 20,000 if they sell their house.

  • Points for skill - 40
  • Points for age - 15
  • Points for English - 20
  • Points for work experience - 5
  • Points for spouse skills - 0

    TOTAL - 80


Amy, 25, a hairdresser, has just broken up with her long-term boyfriend and wants a change.

She has no savings, but is qualified and has seven years of experience. She does not have a job to go to.

Her aunt and uncle moved to Australia in the 1960s as '10 Poms' and are now citizens.

  • Points for skill - 60 + 10 (for working in occupation at least 3-4 years before application)
  • MODL (migration occupation in demand list) points for hairdressers - 15
  • Points for age - 30
  • Points for English - 20
  • Sponsorship from relative - 15

    TOTAL - 150


But According to Danny Sriskandarajah, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, a points system is not necessarily the best thing for Britain.

Currently an employer can apply to the Home Office to take on an overseas employee if they can prove no-one already living here can or will do the job, so that in effect they are directly filling a skills shortage.

Also, a points system targets high and medium level employment sectors and not the "dirty and dangerous" low end jobs that need filling in this country, he said.

The two ways this can be tackled are either by improving wages and conditions - thus pushing up inflation - or by bringing in the labour to fill the gap.

Also, the UK sees nowhere like the levels of immigration per head of population that Australia does, he continued.

"There's no one answer," he said. "I would suggest that we need a flexible employment system and possibly a permanent migration system."

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