Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers says a temporary boost to skilled migration visas isn’t a magic solution to Australia’s economic challenges.
The Federal Government has announced a ‘jobs summit’ that would convene in September to find long-term solutions for Australia’s jobs market and economy.
Australian industry leaders and the unions have called on the government for a temporary two-year increase in skilled migration to allow up to 200,000 overseas migrants to come to Australia every year.
Many businesses are struggling to find workers in Australia as the Covid-19 pandemic brought the inflow of migrants significantly down in the last two years.
Mr Chalmers said while migration would be an essential consideration in the summit, it “shouldn’t be a substitute” for other reforms.
“As we emerge from that period of Covid where the migration tap was largely turned off, that should be an opportunity to think about the best mix of migration as the program gathers speed again,” Mr Chalmers told ABC Radio.
“That’s something we’re talking with business about, talking with unions and other community groups about because we’ve got an opportunity to get the migration settings right.
“I would caution people against thinking that migration is the solution to all of our economic challenges.
“It’s part of the story but not the whole story. And it shouldn’t be a substitute for training Australians for roles.”
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar last week called on the Albanese government to raise the migration rate to 200,000, given the labour shortage in the national economy was “the worst it’s been in nearly 50 years”.
He said that Australia’s low national unemployment rate – 3.9 per cent – meant there weren’t enough Australians to cover the number of job vacancies around the country.