The much talked about Australian Jobs and Skills Summit, held on the 1st and 2nd of September in Canberra, concluded with 36 key initiatives to address workplace relation reforms and worsening skill shortages across the country. Changes to migration planning has been a critical issue throughout the two-day discussions, and the resulting announcement of increasing the permanent skilled migration program ceiling, from 160,000 to 195,000, in 2022-23 has been the centrepiece of the Summit.
The deal to lift the permanent intake by 35,000 places will aim to allow more skilled migrants to enter Australia in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to aid Australia’s economic recovery and help ease widespread workforce shortages. In particular, the number of regional migration visas will increase by 9,000 places and State and Territory sponsored visas will have an additional 20,000 places allocated.
Addressing the Jobs and Skills Summit, Home Affairs Minister, Ms Claire O’Neil, says the increase will mean thousands more workers can enter and remain in Australia to fill critical skills gaps in healthcare, infrastructure and the technology sector. Ms O’Neil hoped this would result in “thousands more nurses settling in the country this year [and] thousands of more engineers”.
In addition to an increase in migration planning levels, the government will commit to:
- extending visas and relaxing work restrictions on international students to strengthen the pipeline to a more skilled labour force
- increasing the number of years that international students can work in Australia after completing certain degrees, i.e. select Bachelor’s degree holders will be able to work for four years, instead of two years, all Master’s degree students will be able to work for five years, up from three years, and PhD graduates will be able to work for six years, up from four years, after graduating. Nursing, Engineering, and IT degrees are at the top of the government’s agenda;
- providing additional funding, to the amount of AU$36.1 million, to clear visa backlogs, which includes increasing staff capacity by 500 positions for the next nine months
These changes are welcomed for both existing onshore migrants, as well as prospective offshore skilled migrants who are looking to migrate to Australia on a more permanent basis.
Many of the ideas and suggestions put forward will be explored further in the next 12 months to see how it can be translated into a pragmatic and efficient manner, such that real changes can be achieved to help shape the future of Australia’s labour market.
Given the recent commitment to increasing Australia’s skilled migration intake, if you are an Australian business affected by the skills shortages and wondering how these changes can benefit you, or if you are a skilled overseas worker looking for permanent migration to Australia, get in contact with us to explore your options.