A new report has called for migrants to come directly to regional areas to reduce the reliance on seasonal workers.
A new report has called for migrants to come directly to regional areas to reduce the reliance on seasonal workers. Contributed

How bringing migrants straight to regions can boost economy

BRINGING migrants straight to regional centres crying out for skilled employees could break the reliance on temporary workers.

A new report from CQUni, released today, has found settling migrants directly into regional areas, instead of relying on re-settlement from capital cities, could reduce dependence on temporary-overseas workers.

The report, Achieving secure and stable migrant employment in the agriculture, manufacturing and food processing industries of regional Queensland, from CQUni's Centre for Tourism and Regional Opportunities has called for a widespread rethink of government immigration policy.

Report co-author Julian Teicher said people looking to migrate to Australia could be pre-matched with jobs matching their skills.

Prof Teicher said agricultural industry in regional areas, was dependent on seasonal, temporary workers.

The report found over-reliance on temporary migrants comes with significant costs due to high labour turnover, strict visa conditions and higher wages.

"If obstacles can be overcome, including the seasonality of work, there are significant social and economic benefits in attracting permanent migrants to regional industries," Professor Teicher said.

"Many respondents indicated a crucial need for both unskilled and skilled employees as regional Australian agribusiness embraces 'agri-tech'."

But the plan would require the government to build new infrastructure, support networks, community capacity and to better promote regional communities.

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would cut total immigration but ruled out forcing people to move to particular regional cities.

Mr Morrison said people would move to regional areas if employment was available.

"That is a natural part of a national economy and government has no control, nor any desire for control, over that aspect of population," he said.

But the report called for people to move straight to regional communities instead of in and out of capital cities.

Prof Teicher said many migrants were unaware that regional communities were crying out for workers.

He said language; matching skills to jobs; and communication between migrants and employers were key barriers that needed to be overcome.

Some migrants are also unwilling to work in regional or rural areas due to perceived social isolation due to a lack of people from the same cultural background.

"Future research should address the role that leadership plays in close-knit migrant communities in terms of building bridges with employers in regional Australia and to facilitate integration within regional communities," he said. -NewsRegional