I am often asked by students as to what will they do if “accountant” is taken out of the SOL in 2014… They are of-course a little anxious thanks to the predictions of some of the so-called migration-experts. Not just students, some institutions too are convinced that it will be “out” and some even predict that the program called “MPA” will have to be dropped as it is only patronised by international students who want to “convert their qualifications” to meet the requirements in Australian context.
This is a little worrying… Too much reliance on “migration outcomes” with the programs that are marketed and the linking it has to migration… (and some had begun to believe that education can be marketed without a migration outcome!!!)
Australia has to accept the reality that beyond the rankings and quality, the prime reason why international students from South Asia choose a destination is “ability to be able to work or settle overseas”. It will be much better if a country promoting its offerings recognises this and finds a suitable format that can promote study-work-settle pathway. Any which does this, will only be removing the camouflage from what they know well to be a fact.
How rumours started on likelihood of “accountant” to be dropped from the SOL?
AWPA has flagged a number of occupations which were borderline in terms of their inclusion on the SOL. These occupations (see the list here) may be removed in future years subject to monitoring of the labour market, education and migration data and evidence from stakeholders in relation to future oversupply issues, migration outcomes and areas of specific need.
This list includes “Accountant” and several other occupations including areas related to IT and also Dentists. I wonder why the migration agents and media has only sounded out “Accountant” and sent out the shivers…
Do I expect that “Accountant” will be removed from SOL?
No. I don’t expect so. I think it will be a blunder. Let me share here the parts from the submission made by ABDC (Australian Business Deans Council):
ABDC supports quality skilled migration initiatives and policies as these are of vital importance to Australia’s labour market, increased productivity, long‐term economic growth and prosperity. In this context our submission argues that the Australian government would gain significant benefit from: 1) retaining accountants on the 2014 SOL; and 2) developing a more flexible and longer‐term approach to retention and review of occupations on the SOL.
ABDC has consistently supported the inclusion of accountants on the SOL and our membership has developed a range of educational offerings and support services, and worked with the professional accounting bodies, to facilitate quality learning outcomes for accounting students, including international graduates. Therefore, our position is that any decision to remove accounting from the SOL would need to be based on accurate market data and sophisticated contextual analysis. Department of Education, Employment and Workforce Relations (DEEWR) analysis indicates that the number of job openings for accountants is expected to be high (greater than 50,000) for the 2012‐ 2017 period. This analysis indicates that labour market growth will place accountants as the third ranked occupation by projected growth.
We would however caution that certain data sources previously used to assess labour market demand for the SOL— e.g. the Australian Graduate Survey (AGS) and recruitment advertisements — are unreliable for assessing market labour demand for accountants. International student response rates to the AGS are typically very low, which is compounded in the case of accounting students, where three quarters are international.
Do read the full submission on this link. The recommendations make a lot of sense and it is high time, that SOL is fixed for three years at a time and not tinkered annually.
What are the views of migration experts that I discuss my thoughts with?
“There is no need to take it off the list. Skill Select and its occupational ceilings are a perfect tool to keep the flow under control. There were 14000 PR visas issued to accountants in 2009. In 2013 that was only 5000 which is half the target set by Skills Select.
The current “talk” is the same talk each year and usually fuelled by comments from the distinguished Dr —-. I’m surprised Dick Smith hasn’t added his two cents worth about keeping Australia small.
It serves a purpose for government which is to keep the message alive that there is no nexus between the student visa and PR and hence keeps the point of sale hoardings and banners in Chandigarh , Dhaka and Beijing clear of the old message.”
and from another expert…
“Considering the current capping numbers of Accountants on SkillSelect, there are still many places left. Even 60 pointers are getting invitations within 2-3 weeks. I don’t think Accountants will be taken off SOL in the next review.”
Hence allow me to differ a little from the perception that has been aired in the press and also fuelled by some “so called experts” within the academia. I concur with my friends who have been quoted above and would “wager my bet” on Accountant and also the various IT professions continuing in the SOL when it is released. To conclude, allow me to re-iterate the recommendations made by the collective body of University Business Deans…
Recommendations from the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC)
ABDC urges the Australian Workforce Productivity Agency and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to ensure any future independent skilled migration occupation list, review system or policies consider the following recommendations:
- Retain accounting and finance occupations on the 2014 Skilled Occupation List (SOL) including 221111 Accountants (general), 22112 Management Accountant, 221113 Taxation Accountant, 221212 Corporate Treasurer, 221213 External Auditor, and 132211 Finance Manager.
- Move to a minimum three‐year cycle of reviews of skilled occupations. This longer term review cycle would provide greater certainty for labour market planning, potential and existing international students and to university planning.
Transition to a more flexible system, such as the one adopted by SkillSelect to support better quality skilled migration. Applying a flexible threshold would allow for a more strategic response to changes in the labour market for accountants, and would enable a more nuanced management of quality immigration. The reactionary annual ‘on or off’ decision making process could be replaced by a longer term planning vision.