The number of skilled migrants applying to work in Far North Queensland has grown exponentially in the past five years however local business advocates say new figures indicate the number rejected is still too high.
New figures released by the Department of Home Affairs show how much FNQ relies on international workers, with 17,003 people submitting applications for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (visa sub class 187) during 2017-18, an increase of 140 per cent since 2013-14.
Hospitality, retail and service manager positions attracted the largest number of applications (4010); followed by food trades workers (3892); and business, human resource and marketing professionals (1381).
Cairns had the largest number of applications last year with 585, followed by Port Douglas and Daintree with 116, Tablelands (99), Cassowary Coast (47), and Weipa and Cape York (5).
Businesses struggling to hire
In comments obtained by the Cairns Post, Mark Bridge, the Cairns-based director of the Australian Immigration Group, however, said the number of applications knocked by the Federal Government was too much.
“In 2016-17, 10,396 applications were approved, out of the 20,236 lodged,” he said.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce chief executive Debbie-Anne Bender said the data showed the government needed to change the way it handled visa applications for the Far North.
She said a business case being prepared by the organisation to allow for concessional treatment of temporary skilled visas in the region was due to be completed by the end of the year.