PLANNING TO MIGRATE to AUSTRALIA? Skilled Workers? Now is a very good time, as Australia relaxes its international borders and faces real skill shortages. More workers have left Australia than ever, and not only have less skilled workers arrived in Australia but more are leaving.
With 14,400 workers leaving Queensland alone, local businesses face critical shortages, particularly in health, hospitality and in the regions. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said “The changes complement the government’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated eligible temporary and provisional visa holders may enter Australia without a travel exemption from 1 December 2021.”
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Australia, like the rest of the developed world, faces massive skill shortages, the loss of migrants from Australia is of concern to businesses. In the data released on Friday, 17 December, it was revealed that Australia recorded a net loss of 88,800 people in 2020-21 due to the impact of COVID on overseas migration.
ABS Director Migration Statistics, Jenny Dobak, said the figures show there were more people departing from, than arriving into, Australia during the pandemic, reversing the historical migration pattern. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, many historical patterns of migration have changed,” she said. “Contrast this to 2018-19, prior to the pandemic, when the country recorded a net gain of 241,300 people.”
Nationally, when compared with a year ago, emigration fell 25% (234,600 from 314,200) and immigration fell 71% (145,800 from 506,900). “In the decade prior to the pandemic, there was an annual net gain from overseas migration for each state and territory,” Ms Dobak said. “However in 2020-21, during the pandemic, there was a decline in net overseas migration in every state and territory.”
Victoria lost the highest number of migrants recording a loss of 56,100, followed by Queensland (14,400), WA (5,600), NSW (5,500), SA (3,300), ACT (3,100), Tasmania (440) and the Northern Territory (380).
Last month, the Office of Home Affairs said it was updating its Migration Program to try and support the economic recovery impacted severely by the loss of migrant skilled workers. The Office said it was aiming to attract 79,600 skilled workers into the country in 2022 – about half the 160,000 migration places it was forecasting.
Of those, 22,000 were allocated to employer-sponsored workers and 13,500 were to be set aside for the business innovation and investment program. It was also changing the visa rules for migrant skilled workers still in Australia.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said these measures recognise the contribution of skilled migrants who remained here during the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage them to stay in Australia.
“Eligible skilled workers, already in Australia, will continue to support local businesses facing critical shortages, particularly in health, hospitality and our regions,” Mr Hawke said. “This recognises the economic value-add of these critical workers, and retaining them will greatly assist in Australia’s economic recovery.”
“The changes complement the government’s recent announcement that fully vaccinated eligible temporary and provisional visa holders may enter Australia without a travel exemption from 1 December 2021,” he said.
These visa changes will improve access to permanent residence for:
Existing Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa holders in the short-term stream; and
Legacy Temporary Work Skilled (subclass 457) visa holders who no longer meet the age requirement.
“This is a special concession recognising those highly skilled migrant workers who chose to stay in Australia throughout the pandemic while continuing to address Australia’s acute shortages. This allows them to stay here, with a pathway to Australian citizenship,” Mr Hawke said.
“There are currently about 20,000 primary Temporary Skill Shortage and 457 visa holders in Australia who may benefit from these arrangements. Most of these workers are employed in the highest-skilled occupations and the largest cohorts of workers benefiting from these changes include those currently employed in the health and hospitality industries, including many workers in regional Australia.”
In October, KPMG said the government’s Centre for Population forecasts positive migration will only return in the 2022-23 financial year.
KPMG’s head of immigration services, Belinda Wright, said border closures had severely affected Australia’s migrant program.
She said before the pandemic, Australia had already been falling behind other countries in its ability to attract and retain skilled migrants and travel restrictions had only made that worse.
With thanks, Business Australia.
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