We got in contact with Jarrod Ferguson, the Migration Manager of the Western Australia Government Office, Europe to understand why WA is such a popular migration destination.
In your view, what does WA have to offer for a skilled migrant?
With a strong economy, new business start-ups (more than anywhere else in Australia), billions in GBP of private and public investment in major infrastructure projects and the highest average salaries in Australia, WA offers fertile conditions for building a solid and rewarding career.
The state also experiences certain skill shortages owing to a relatively small population, meaning that people with relevant skills can really shine.
Many people associate WA with the mining and resources sectors, and while these industries are important to the State’s economy, the types of skilled opportunities on offer are now more likely to be found outside those industries in other areas of the economy. For example, Perth is currently undergoing a hospital building ‘mini-boom’, creating a need for thousands of healthcare workers (particularly doctors, nurses and midwives – see http://www.wago.co.uk/index.php/opportunities-for-health-professionals.html). In addition, there is significant growth in the hotel and hospitality sector as new bars and restaurants open and WA focusses on attracting many more tourists. The State’s agricultural sector also has a growing need for farmers of all persuasions.
Above all though, the lifestyle in WA is pretty hard to beat. Perth consistently rates among the top ten most liveable cities in the world (The Economist Intelligence Unit), the State experiences the most hours of sunshine in Australia, and there are endless miles of pristine white sand beaches as far as the eye can see. Building a large detached open-plan home on a block of land, with a pool, is really popular with new arrivals, and eligible new permanent migrants are able to access a grant from the Government toward the purchase of a new home.
In your view, what does WA have to offer someone looking to study abroad?
WA’s capital city Perth is a great place to study. The city has a number of world class universities (one in the world’s top 100) and TAFEs (technical colleges for studying practical industry related qualifications in diverse areas such as trades, creative arts, business and the oil and gas sector – see http://www.eti.wa.edu.au and the Western Australian Government Office in Europe’s website – http://www.wago.co.uk
The city is much more laid back and easy to get around than other larger Australian cities and because of the strong economy, students are more easily able to find part-time work and earn more at the same time.
Perth universities and TAFEs offer world class and modern facilities, with easy access to the city centre and to the many beaches, so students get a great learning experience and lots of fun.
The city is popular with students from all over the world, so students will meet people from many different cultural backgrounds and Perth is close to tourism hotspots such as Bali and Thailand, which allows for quick (in Australian terms) and affordable travel during holidays or on the way to or from the UK.
I imagine you cross people from all walks of life who have many different reasons for emigrating to Australia. What are some of the most common reasons that people are choosing WA over NSW/Victoria?
WA has strong links to the UK. Approximately 12 percent of the population are British born, so it seems that every second person has a cousin or a friend who has already made the move. These links create big pull factors for British people.
WA is also closer to Europe than Sydney or Melbourne. It’s about 4 hours flight closer in fact.
The other big driver, and this has definitely been the case for the past decade, is the strong economy. WA’s economy has outperformed the rest of Australia and people are aware that there are more career and earning opportunities available in WA than elsewhere. It also helps that the State is a very migrant-friendly place and that the lifestyle is amazing.
How much do people currently know about WA? Do you find that they need some explanation or do they generally have a good idea about what WA has to offer?
People generally have a good idea about WA now. This hasn’t always been the case, but the good news story about our economy and the associated employment opportunities has definitely helped raise our profile during the economic slowdown in Europe.
As I mentioned before, many people have relatives and friends in WA, so people hear a lot through their connections.
The economic growth in WA over the last decade shows that there are lot of opportunities to be explored in the area. What are some of the obstacles you face in encouraging people to move there?
Generally speaking, we don’t have too much difficulty encouraging people to move to WA. It is after all a beautiful destination with amazing career opportunities. The major challenge for many people is qualifying for a visa.
It’s important to be realistic and practical when you make the decision to migrate. Not everyone can migrate, and this has a lot to do with visa eligibility. Australia’s visa system prioritises skilled migrants who are in demand in Australia and as depressing as it may be, not everyone will have the necessary qualifications or meet the relevant criteria.
It’s good to put the effort into researching the options. Do this at the beginning to clearly understand your eligibility.
Excerpts from this interview were used in our article on Western Australia is a global capital for migration.
WAGO promotes Western Australia as an attractive destination for investment, visitors, migrants and students. Click here to find out more about WAGO.