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Why Queensland's doors are still open to doctors and IT experts

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International travel restrictions have slowed skilled migration, but two industries still need workers during a pandemic.

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New data from the Department of Home Affairs shows the number of successful working visa applications fell 41.6 per cent last calendar year. In Queensland, that meant almost 1,000 fewer workers arriving from overseas.

But due to the pandemic, and perhaps the social distancing requirements that have seen more activities go online, some occupations remain in high demand.

There has been a 21.8 per cent increase in visas given to resident medical officers who work in hospitals, and Queensland’s share of the national intake almost doubled to 23.2 per cent in 2020.

“Queensland Health facilitates an annual campaign to recruit resident medical officers and registrars for positions in Hospital and Health Services across the state,” a Queensland Health spokeswoman said.

“We are fortunate, that even in a global pandemic, medical practitioners are willing and wanting to travel and work here in Queensland. While 2020 introduced another level of complexity to the recruitment process including exemption applications and mandatory quarantine periods, we’re thrilled with the response.

“For last year’s recruitment campaign, we received 1447 applications from junior doctors with a primary medical qualification obtained from an overseas university. Of these, 425 applicants were successful in obtaining a position in Queensland Heath for the 2021 clinical year.”

Australia remains reliant on overseas-trained health workers, however ongoing reforms are intended to make the sector more self-sufficient. Late last year, the national Medical Workforce Reform Advisory Committee discussed the impact of the pandemic and the need to continue monitoring the workforce pipeline.

Overall, the information, media and telecommunications industry had slightly more visas granted in 2020 than the health care and social assistance category, with the job of software engineer rising up the ranks to be second most popular behind resident medical officer.

Those industries also experienced an increase in visa holders in Australia, at a time when other industries, such as hospitality, experienced a downturn and some overseas-trained workers left Australia.

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