Australian Federal Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration has recommended an overhaul of the skilled migration system, starting with the consolidating Short and Medium Term Skills List.
Joint Standing Committee on Migration has released its final report of the Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration Program.
The Committee, chaired by Liberal MP Julian Leeser, has made several recommendations that could see a significant overhaul of the current Skilled Migration System if accepted.
The Committee has recommended that the National Skills Commission develop a new occupation and/or skills identification system for the skilled migration program in consultation with industry to replace ANZSCO.
“The new system should be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs, with consideration given to how the new system would integrate with other functions of government currently utilising the ANZSCO,” reads the report.
The Committee has also recommended that “the Government consolidate the Medium and Long Terms Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) into one list: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).”
Also, it says the Government should revisit the recommendations of the ‘Review of the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT) (2017)’ to increase the TSMIT.
“Such a change should be made with consideration of exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas,” reads the report.
Here are the detailed recommendations:
The Committee recommends that building on the work of the National Skills Commission (NSC) and the Skilled Migration Officials Group, the Federal Government develop a dynamic national workforce plan. The plan would co-ordinate the efforts of State and Federal Governments to ensure Australia’s persistent skills shortages and future workforce needs are addressed through Australia’s higher education and vocational education systems, employment services and the skilled migration program. This plan should be regularly updated. In order to develop the plan:
Across-portfolio, cross-jurisdictional Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) should be established, meet regularly, and comprise decision-makers from departments and agencies, led by the NSC.
The NSC and relevant data collection bodies should also develop a data aggregation system that identifies skills shortages at a regional level by occupation.
2.107 The National Skills Commission should develop a new occupation and/or skills identification system for the skilled migration program in consultation with industry to replace ANZSCO. The new system should be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs, with consideration given to how the new system would integrate with other functions of government currently utilising the ANZSCO.
2.126 The Committee recommends that the Government:
Develop accepted definitions of acute skills shortages and persistent skills shortages taking into account:
Length of time the shortage has existed
Number of job vacancies and the geographic spread of vacancies
Criticality of the occupation if left unfilled (e.g. nurses and general practitioners)
Criticality of the occupation to temporary circumstances (e.g. bushfires, floods or pandemics).
Provide employers looking to fill jobs on the PMSOL with more streamlined processes.
2.152 The Committee recommends that the Government consolidate the Medium and Long Terms Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) into one list: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).
2.153 The Committee recommends that when the pandemic is concluded the PMSOL should be replaced by an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List (APSSL).
2.154 The Committee recommends that the skills lists be regularly reviewed.
2.185 The Committee recommends that the Department of Home Affairs should change the visa conditions for the short-term stream of the Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482) to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants.
All employer nominated visas should provide the option of a pathway to permanency. The length of time to permanency and the conditions involved may vary from visa to visa with, for instance, applicants in lower skilled occupations taking longer to reach permanency than more highly skilled visa holders.
Conditions for permanency should continue to include:
Competent English language ability; and
Applicants should be under the age of 45. Recommendation 8
3.30 The Committee recommends that the Government provide further concessions for temporary regional visas, including:
Labour Market Testing advertising can be up to 12 months before lodging a nomination application
Raise the age limit to 50
English language requirements at vocational English
Reduction of prior experience required in occupation to 2 years and
Priority visa processing.
3.45 The Government should revisit the recommendations of the Review of the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT) (2017) in order to increase the TSMIT. Such a change should be made with consideration of exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas.
3.73 The Committee recommends the Government consider changes to post- study work arrangements for a subset of international student graduates where those graduates have:
Undertaken a university course (or a course run by a reputable non- university higher education provider) leading to a job in an occupation with a persistent skills shortage
Demonstrated excellence for instance by graduating in the top ten per cent of all graduates in their course or achieving first class honours
Met relevant English language standards
On graduation, worked in a job that is relevant to their field of study
with a persistent skills shortage
Such graduates would be eligible for a discount on the work experience component for permanent residency under the employer nominated scheme from three years to two years.
For graduates applying for a points-based visa, additional points could be awarded for those graduates meeting the above criteria.
The Government should also consider longer temporary graduate visas of three years to provide time and flexibility for graduates to find work.
As a special integrity measure the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency should undertake special and regular audits of the assessment of excellence measure to ensure standards are maintained.
3.83 The Committee recommends that Government enable intra-company transfer of executive employees of multinational companies to Australia where necessary for these companies to expand their operations in Australia. Streamlining should include an exemption from labour market testing. This measure should be subject to other strict integrity measures. Consideration should be given to whether a separate visa category is necessary to enable intra-company executive transfers.
3.112 The Committee recommends that the Department of Home Affairs update their visa processing system to ensure a more streamlined visa application process for applicants and employers.
3.113 The Committee recommends that the Department of Home Affairs undertake to improve their customer service in the skilled migration program with consideration given to:
Establishing industry liaison officers to assist businesses in navigating the skilled migration program and provide feedback to the Department on emerging conditions in industry
Provision of a specialist triage system to provide advice on complex visa applications including
Making officials available to discuss visa applications over the phone
Allowing skilled visa applicants and employers the opportunity to correct minor discrepancies without having to restart the application.
4.34 The Committee recommends that the Government temporarily extend the timeframe for employers to undertake Labour Market Testing prior to nomination from 4 months to 6 months during the pandemic recovery.
4.35 The Committee recommends that the Government exempt businesses from Labour Market Testing when a 457 or 482 visa holder has been employed in the position on a full-time basis for twelve months or more and prior to their lodgement of a subsequent visa application or a permanent residence application.
4.67 The Committee recommends that employers should be exempt from paying the Skilling Australia Fund levy twice for the same applicant, or for a subsequent visa, where the employer has already paid the Skilling Australia Fund levy for that employee.
4.68 The Committee recommends that universities should be exempt from the Skilling Australia Fund levy.
4.69 The Committee recommends that the Government guarantee a refund of the Skilling Australia Fund levy where the visa application is unsuccessful and where there is no evidence of fraud on the part of the sponsor or applicant.