How to meet Australian demand for Pacific foreign vocational workers

Hohola Youth Development Centre, PNG (DFAT/Flickr CC BY 2.0)
Hohola Youth Development Centre, PNG (DFAT/Flickr CC BY 2.0)

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Historically, Australia has lacked a coherent policy to attract immigrants with less extensive formal training and education, despite the needs of their aging population and labour market. Recent moves to develop such a policy have thrown up numerous questions, such as how many vocational workers are needed, for which the economic literature has few answers.

The Center for Global Development (CGD) has recently concluded a project with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) which has produced two papers. The first paper estimates the demand for vocational workers in Australia by 2050, finding that demand will exceed native supply by over two million. While there will be ample, skilled, labour available within Pacific Island countries, facilitating this movement in a managed way that maximizes the development potential of migration will be key. To that end, the second paper proposes the development of a ‘Pacific Skills Partnership’, a model which would facilitate skills creation across 14 low-income Pacific Island countries, with the greatest development potential lying in Papua New Guinea.

In this webinar, we invite participants to discuss the findings of both of these papers, helping to refine and nuance their conclusions, identify the barriers to policy implementation, and chart a way forward.


Michael Clemens is Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, where he studies the economic effects and causes of migration around the world. He has published on migration, development, economic history, and impact evaluation, in peer-reviewed academic journals including the American Economic Review, and his research has been awarded the Royal Economic Society Prize.

Satish Chand is a Professor of Finance in the School of Business at the University of New South Wales and based at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. Satish is also an Adjunct Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University. His research interests include labour migration, fragile states, and the challenges of development.

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This webinar is presented by the Center for Global Development and the Development Policy Centre at Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

This webinar is free and open to the public. It will be recorded, and the recording will be made available after the event through the Development Policy Centre website.

Arichika Okazaki

Arichika Okazaki is a Senior Program Officer at the Development Policy Centre.

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