Migration was “part of the solution” to the labour and skill shortages, claimed Jim Chalmers, the Centre for Population’s treasurer. This was made public on Friday in the centre’s 2022 statement.
Due to Covid, Australia lost 473,000 potential immigrants, but the Centre for Population has discovered that net inward migration is currently on course to return to pre-pandemic levels of 235,000 persons per year.
According to the analysis, Covid travel restrictions caused an 85,000-person decline in population in 2020–21, Australia’s first net migration decline since the Second World War.
A “sharp increase in migrant arrivals” following the reopening of borders in late 2021 led to a net inflow of 150,000 migrants in 2021–2022 according to the report. This is expected to rise to the pre-pandemic trend level of 235,000 in 2022–2023 on schedule.
According to the report, cumulative nett overseas migration was projected to be 473,000 more people from 2019 to 20 to 2025–26 “had the pandemic not occurred.”
Pre-flight Covid testing was reinstated by the government on Sunday for passengers travelling from China, which sparked concerns that trade, migration, and the arrival of foreign students might be disrupted once more. However, most business and education groups, with the exception of the Business Council of Australia, expressed cautious support for the measure.
Vicki Thomson, the chief executive of the Group of Eight universities, said that although it may “impact students returning to study,” the decision was made “in the best interests of our students and the broader Australian community.”
The decision by the government to require a negative test before departure is acceptable and supported by business, according to Andrew McKellar, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“With the Chinese border only just reopening it will take some time before we see international arrivals from China return to their pre-pandemic levels. As such, we don’t expect testing requirements will have any great impact on our local tourism operators.”
According to the report from the centre, the increase in migration last year was primarily due to returning international students. There were 122,000 more people in Australia in October 2022 than there were in December 2021, including 36,000 more Chinese students, an increase of 90%.
Between January and September 2022, awards for offshore student visas were the highest ever, while those for working holiday visas were higher than in 2019.
The Albanese government raised the permanent migration ceiling from 160,000 to 195,000 during the jobs and skills summit in September; according to the study, this “further strengthened” the return of skilled visa arrivals and family reunions.
According to data released on Monday, Australia’s fertility rate increased to 1.66 infants per woman in 2020–21, returning to pre-pandemic levels.
In predicting migration patterns, the research recognised “significant uncertainties,” including the “upside risk” of fewer people leaving Australia than anticipated and the “downside risk” of more people leaving.
Particularly, it stated that student numbers were subject to “movement restrictions in student source countries.”
According to Chalmers, “crippling skills and labour shortages are holding our businesses and our economy back while the economy recovers from the worst of the pandemic.”
He claimed that the government would make sure that the economy has the necessary number of skilled personnel.
“Migration settings in Australia need to be sustainable, serve Australia’s national interest, and not be a substitute for training and building the capacity of our domestic workforce,” the government of Australia has said.
The migration programme is now being reviewed by the government; results are expected in early 2023. Through the assessment and the future employment white paper, Chalmers pledged “to build a bigger and better-trained workforce in 2023.”