The good news is that Australia’s economy is making a quicker-than-predicted recovery following COVID19.
The not so good news is that there is still a very important aspect of our economy that needs to be addressed.
Australia continues to suffer skill shortages across many sectors. And it is hindering Australia’s economic recovery.
It was the case before COVID struck. Now, with the cap on international arrivals and the general border closure, it has become an even bigger issue.
This is despite both State and Federal Governments increasing investment in training opportunities for Australians. This includes both increased training places, as well as supported apprenticeships in the Federal Budget.
What this tells us is that while training Australians for jobs that are in demand is obviously important – the issue requires a more urgent solution.
And that solution is skilled migration.
Skilled Migration doesn’t mean Australians don’t ‘come first’
Australian businesses should be encouraged to seek Australians to fill their available roles first. It makes sense. It is more simpler than going down the Employer Sponsored pathway, and relocation (and travel exemptions) is much less of an issue (or often, not an issue at all.)
The simple fact is, sometimes that is just not an option.
Our team has spoken to businesses who have recruited for positions for the best part of a year and yet have received no qualified applicants. Zero! If there are no suitably skilled Aussies applying, then businesses have no other option other than to look overseas.
But due to the cap on international arrivals, and the lack of skilled visas being granted, those businesses are often stuck between a rock and a hard place.
For one of our clients in particular, an IT infrastructure company, this has hugely impacted its business. The company does not have the number of trade skills workers required to deliver on all their projects. This means that jobs have to be scheduled out over long periods and clients are told they have to wait. The downstream impact of these delays can be devastating for businesses trying to get their own products or services to market.
Supporting Australians looking for work should be a priority. As should investing in training.
But we need to ensure there is an industry waiting for those workers once they have qualified.
Our Skills Shortage Needs Urgent Attention
Think about it this way.
An apprenticeship or standard university course takes 3-4 years to complete. This is to obtain the basic level of skill or knowledge to start a career in the relevant field.
To be highly competent will take many years after that.
So we are looking at a lead time of up to six years.
But Australian businesses need people now.
So yes, we need to keep training Australians. But to ensure businesses survive in the meantime – we need skilled migrants.
And it’s not just about survival. There is a history of Australian businesses moving their operations overseas because they cannot get the support they need here in Australia.
The pandemic has reinforced the need for Australia to have a higher level of self-reliance. We have people. We have resources. We have opportunities.
But whilst we are revving up to achieve that level of self-reliance, let’s use the world’s resources down under.
Other Benefits to Skilled Migration
There is another reason so many companies in Australia go out of their way to sponsor workers from overseas.
Migrants are often more willing to take roles that are less palatable to Australians because those migrants have the goal of permanent residence – or are grateful for the benefit of having a new life in Australia.
Skilled migrants also often establish new and exciting enterprises, bringing experience from overseas and innovative ideas that they are willing to share here.
Of course, there are proven social benefits of migration alongside the economic ones. The integration of people from all over the world is what makes our society so marvelously multicultural.
Not to mention – our population is aging. We haven’t got the growth in the younger demographic that we need to support our country moving forward, as more people enter their twilight years.
So what’s the solution?
Our priority, right now, should be supporting Australian businesses.
We don’t do much manufacturing, because of labour costs. There have been some missed opportunities over the years – and I think we can all agree it is a real shame.
So let’s support the businesses that are here – because in the long run, the benefit will be for all of Australia.
There are several things our Governments can do to help.
Onshore applications for Permanent Residence
The Federal Government is not currently prioritising the processing of Permanent Residence applications for people who are offshore.
In my opinion, this doesn’t make a lot of sense.
We need to process and finalise all offshore Employer Nomination applications as a priority. This would result in those new Aussie permanent residents being able to enter Australia without the need for a travel exemption – and the company gets the skilled worker in place.
Increase cap in International Arrivals
This is a rather obvious one.
If we increase the number of arrivals, airlines will fill their planes and prices will drop and Aussies currently overseas can return to Australia to fill skill shortages.
Business NSW has even proposed that State and Federal Governments work with businesses willing to privately fund charter flights and quarantine arrangements for skilled migrants, to increase capacity without affecting existing caps. Link
This could be another innovative solution to the problem!
Expanding the Priority Skills List
The Federal Government has rolled out the red carpet for elite professionals, with the Global Talent Independent program (GTI). This means we are streamlining visas for highly skilled professionals. The government also released a new occupations list for Australia’s Skilled Migration programme towards the end of last year.
The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) identifies occupations which fill critical skills needed to support Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
This is all good news – however we still need lots of other skills, for other professions. The Government needs to work with industry and business groups – even local councils, to identify where the needs are and prioritise these occupations.
Need help from an expert?
If you are an employer looking to sponsor a worker – or a skilled worker looking to come to Australia, get in touch.
At Aspire Australia, we work with many people hoping to migrate to Australia. With 30 years of experience and 99% success rate, your future in this wonderful country is safe in our hands.
Everyone’s story is different, and each situation demands a unique strategy. To obtain your very own step by step MAP: Migration Action Plan, we invite you to book an appointment with our Migration SuperHero, Sarah Gillis.
We look forward to working with you!