Important announcements were made during the skilled migration session of the Jobs and Skills Summit by the Hon. Andrew Giles, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, and Multicultural Affairs, and the Hon. Clare O’Neil, Minister for Home Affairs.
It was announced that Professor Brian Schmidt, the Vice Chancellor of the Australian National University, will oversee an extensive study of the Australian migration policy. The government will make some tweaks to the migration program as it goes along, according to Minister O’Neil, rather than waiting until the evaluation is finished. The review’s terms of reference have not yet been released.
A new paper from the Committee for Economic Development (CEDA), released in advance of the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, urged immediate changes to the migration system. The paper focused on three aspects; unlocking skilled migration, reforms to the migration system, and future directions.
Unlocking skilled migration
According to the report, since official projections indicate that economic growth will fall below 2% by the end of next year, it will be crucial to increase capacity and take advantage of possible development and investment possibilities in the near future.
A third of the rising skills needs of the Australian economy have historically been met by migrants, and given Australia’s ageing population, the nation should anticipate this trend to pick up speed in the coming years. Additionally, skilled migration has made it easier for Australian employees and enterprises to access information, skills, and worldwide connections, notably in fields like sophisticated manufacturing.
According to CEDA’s 2019 study Effects of Temporary Migration, recent migration waves have not negatively impacted the employment prospects of the local citizens. In reality, certain recent migration waves to Australia have been linked to increases in local workers’ participation rates and earnings on an annual basis.
Although pre-Summit proposals and discussions did not unanimously agree on the ideal amount of migration for Australia, they did concur on the significance of migration and the necessity of streamlining, improving efficiency, and making transparent the skilled migration system.
The Treasury Issues Paper emphasises how challenging it is to manage the present migration system and how challenging it is for potential migrants to follow. When normal temporary or permanent visa processes are unable to satisfy their demands, firms are increasingly turning to labour agreements with the federal government. Currently, there are over 1,000 such agreements in force, an almost two-fold increase over the previous 18 months.
The report suggested that in a situation where advanced nations are concurrently dealing with pandemic-induced skills shortages and significant economic shifts in climate and energy, technology, and healthcare that all require skilled labour, new ways are now necessary. This report offers suggested short-term changes to the skilled migration system, along with more significant long-term changes.
Australia’s appeal to immigrants from around the world has returned to levels unseen since before the epidemic. This uplifting shift in perspective is also noticeable in global education. At a crucial time in the revival of global migration patterns, however, protracted administrative delays and uncertainty run the danger of cruelling the pitch to potential migrants.
This is on top of complaints about Australia’s strict border regulations and its failure to provide economic assistance to temporary migrants during the epidemic, in contrast to Canada and the UK.
Reforms to the migration system
According to the paper, Australia’s migration policies need to be changed as a result of the current situation, both immediately and over time. The flow of skilled labour will occur more quickly than creating, executing, and putting people through new education and training programs, even with some administrative lag caused by the number of applications. For instance, even at present, it takes 83 days on average to finalise a short-term temporary skilled visa.
It further suggested that immediate reforms to the migration system can be made through the following steps
1. Outline visa backlog action plan in October Budget
2. Streamline skilled migration access for trusted global companies
3. Create a new migration pathway for carers
4. Temporary arrangements for skilled occupation lists
5. Aligning skilled migration and training settings
According to the report, along with these immediate reform needs, the migration system’s longer-term architecture should be based on three key directions.
1. Needs defined by skills not occupations
2. Expand and streamline pathways to permanency
3. Systematic review and transparency