The Great and Talentful Oz

The Great and Talentful Oz

“While the immigration debate in the United States and elsewhere is focused largely on unskilled laborers and humanitarian refugees,” the Hechinger Report’s higher education editor Jon Marcus writes at Quartz, “Australia and other nations have been waging an aggressive global competition for highly-skilled professionals”:

Nearly seven out of 10 immigrants [in Australia] are accepted based on being able to do jobs in fields such as engineering that the government and employers say there aren’t enough domestic workers to fill. In the United States—where technology companies in particular are sounding warnings about a similar skills gap they say is contributing to a near-record 5.6 million job openings—the proportion of immigrants admitted for their skills is less than two in 10. For advanced professional skills, the number is about one in 17, the Department of Homeland Security reports. The rest are relatives of people already here, plus refugees and asylum-seekers.

“We are not keeping pace with what the rest of the world is doing,” said Andy Halataei, senior vice president for government affairs at the US Information Technology Industry Council, which advocates for immigration reform to change this. “We don’t have a high-skilled immigration system that acts to attract international talent.”

That talent includes foreign students who are trained at and graduate from American colleges and universities only to confront a system critics variously describe as “absurd” and “utterly insane” that makes it all but impossible for most to stay. Students who come to Australia, by comparison, are allowed to stick around for 18 months to four years on temporary visas that, for many, lead to permanent citizenship.