Monday, August 29, 2005

Less Laws

DownsizeDC comes up with Read the Bills Act of 2005 .
Every member of the House and Senate must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on

via Shutup and Code

Saturday, August 27, 2005

New Rules of Traffic Engineering reports:
Monderman is one of the leaders of a new breed of traffic engineer - equal parts urban designer, social scientist, civil engineer, and psychologist. The approach is radically counterintuitive: Build roads that seem dangerous, and they'll be safer
via Brian Marick

Skilled migrant program flawed

A report twenty years too late:
Skilled migrants who come to Australia are ending up as taxi drivers because of major flaws in the skilled migrant program, an independent inquiry has found.

I personally know of a few engineers who work in Fish and Chips shops and run home delivery trucks, because of difficulty securing work as engineers.

Herald Sun: Howard praises journos [27aug05]

Howard praises journos for not revealing sources, who are facing contempt of court action.

Whatever happened to upholding the Rule of Law? Can we be selective about the Law? What happens if the Law requires one to do things immoral, like refuse medical treatment to mentally ill people if they were deemed by Migration Officials to be "illegal"?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Wifi: Public Infrastructure for the new century?

A Venture Capitalist mulls whether Wifi should be public infrastructure?, and points to farmers in rural Oregon already have wifi. Over here in Australia, with vast distances it certainly makes a better case than rolling out broadband to every farming household, and (my guess) wouldn't cost close to the AUD$3 billion that Telstra claims it needs.

via Wesner Moise

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A-levels becoming 'just a leaving certificate'

The Guardian reports in the UK, that A-levels becoming 'just a leaving certificate', because of it's inability to differentiate between the good and the brightest.

However, the principle behind allocating university places should not depend on making it available to the brightest, but those who are able to complete the course. Given that A-levels is pretty objective as to the capability of school leavers, we can pretty much bunk the view that kids are getting dumber. As a matter of fact, they are getting smarter thanks to more effective teaching and a healthy economy that is more conducive to learning.

This is the paradox of workforce shortages, on one hand you have able people who can't get into medicine after leaving high-school, and on the other hand you have a society which is terribly short of doctors.

If the retirees of tomorrow find they have mortgage their homes to pay for healthcare, they have only themselves to blame for not funding medical places at universities.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Financing health care -|

The Economist has a writeup on British healthonomics.

This sounds much like the system that's under scrutiny by the Morris enquiry in Queensland where a regional hospital tried to perform difficult surgeries because they bring in more funds, despite the hospital being ill-equipped / ill-qualified to perform these tasks.

The following facts are related:
1) there aren't enough doctors,
2) there never enough places for people who want to study medicine.
3) ability to practice medicine is tightly regulated
4) healthcare is expensive

I read that in Hong Kong, (2) is getting worse because doctors are leaving university hospitals for the private sector.

Given that there is such an immediate crisis in the doctor-shortage, perhaps it's time for the government to start to actively seek to accredit overseas medical colleges, so that there is more freedom for doctors to move from one country to another.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More on Cornelia Rau

More clippings of Cornelia Rau's detention here.


Migrants can struggle to get jobs

The Age reports migrants can find it extremely difficult to find work even though there are shortages.

Calls are growing louder to boost the number of skilled migrants to help solve our skill shortages. But migrants will only help stem shortages if they secure work in areas in which they are qualified. And many find that even in fields of supposed shortages, they are struggling to do this.

Migrants are not able to access unemployment benefits for their first two years in Australia. Unfortunately, this also means they can't be helped by Government-funded recruitment agencies like the Job Network.

On top of this, many jobs in Australia are highly regulated. Plumbers, electricians require Australian-recognized qualifications before they can operate.

An article on a job placements firm in New South Wales says basically the same thing: "Many migrants also face the problem of never having been exposed to Australian standards. This is a very legitimate reason for Australian employers to prefer candidates with relevant exposure to Australian standards". (Link to article)

If you are a migrant engineer, please share with us your experience here.

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Skilled Migrants Might Not Get Jobs

In this news, a small business said that he is reluctant to hire because fears of the new hires being "not good".
However, the immigration drive has been greeted with scepticism in some quarters. One of the groups targeted by the immigration drive is to be automotive electricians. But Deylan Barrie, the managing director of Barrie's Auto Electrics and himself an immigrant, agrees there is an urgent shortage of electricians but he says he would be reluctant to hire someone from a government list of approved immigrants.

This restates my previous assertion that potential skilled migrants to Australia should be very careful before selling up and moving to Australia. Employers in Australia are very risk averse because it can get very expensive if new employees do not hit the ground running. Try getting a work visa first, and try to find a job.

I know of a Human Resources specialist from South Africa (who is white, by the way) who is running of all things his own tyre shop here in Australia, after obtaining an Australian IT degree. No lack of qualifications here, just not enough employers who would give new Australians a chance.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hunt for migrant workers

Australia launches another drive for skilled migration, but the problem isn't with the government. It's with the employers.

I personally know of several experienced engineers from overseas who are still looking for work two years on after settling in Australia. Australian employers are extremely wary of overseas talent, and often want people with "Australian" experience. A catch-22 situation for migrants.

The situation is probably the same for all industries other than health, as the government usually employs migrant doctors by imposing severe restrictions on how migrant doctors can practice.

The government could first start a register of unemployed qualified professionals who are already resident in Australia and give these people a break they need to get into the workforce. A buddy system can help. For instance, employers who already have an engineer from say Sri Lanka should look up in the register for more Sri Lankans, and leverage the existing engineer's experience to orientate the new hire.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Overseas Doctor marrying Australian Citizen

Overseas doctors marrying an Australian citizen should give some consideration to their potential job prospects in Australia.

Under Section 19AB of the Health Insurance Act, migrant doctors can only provide government subsidized healthcare if they live in the outback for 10 years. Australia has an oversupply of doctors living in towns and cities but the situation in the "bush" is dire. There are virtually no job prospects for their spouses (especially if they are professionals) in the bush, where town with populations of 10,000 are considered large regional centres.

The government health subsidy works out to about 70% of the standard GP consultation. If a GP wishes to forgo that 70% they are virtually non-competitive in a city, where some bulk-billing clinics charge the patient nothing, instead making their money only on government subsidy alone.

However, there is a leeway here. If both the doctor and his/her spouse are migrating to Australia, and the spouse has a skill which there is shortage in Australia, e.g. Civil Engineer, then the doctor can get an exemption and work in the city.

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Seafood worth $150,000 stolen

The Herald Sun reports Seafood worth $150,000 stolen. If there is some genius behind the madness of stealing something that would spoil so quickly, I would like to know it.