Skills Shortages Australia 2021 | Businesses Call on Government to Review Permanent Residence Pathways for Skilled Visa Holders
In over 18 months since Australia closed its international border to all but essential travellers, more than 500,000 temporary migrants have left Australia. Many have been unable to return due to international border restrictions.
Coupled with the fact that businesses have been unable to engage Temporary Visa holders from overseas that do not meet a Critical Work Travel Exemption, skill shortages have been growing for positions that cannot be filled from the local labour market.
To ensure Australia is responsive to the impact of the pandemic, the Government’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration has opened an Inquiry into Australia’s Skilled Migration program. This included a review of:
- Any immediate adjustments or long-term structural changes that should be made to ensure the skilled migration program is effective for pandemic recovery;
- Australia’s international competitiveness in attracting the best and brightest migrants;
- Whether the Skills lists for migration meets the needs of industries and businesses;
- The administrative requirements and sponsorship costs for businesses seeking to sponsor skilled migrants;
- The complexity of Australia’s skilled migration program including the number of visa classes and their requirements, safeguards and pathways.
Business and industry groups have put forward their recommendations on how the program should adapt to their post-pandemic needs. The next step is for the Government to reject or approve the Inquiry recommendations. Here’s a summary of recommendations made by businesses.
More Direct Pathways to Employer Sponsored Permanent Residence
Since the 457 Visa program transitioned to the TSS 482 Visa in 2018, employees sponsored via the 482 Visa have been split into two streams. Unfortunately, employees that are skilled in an occupation eligible for the Short Term 482 Visa Stream do not have a direct pathway to Permanent Residence (PR) – unlike those in the Long-Term Stream.
Businesses are calling for Short Term Stream TSS 482 visa holders to be given PR pathways – with the length of time to PR and conditions involved to vary based on their level of skills.
It was recommended that applicants with lower skilled occupations could take longer to achieve PR than those under more highly skilled occupations. This is on the basis that applicants are competent in English and under the age of 45.
If implemented, this would be a significant change for many employees on a Short Term Stream 482 Visa. Access to PR pathways are a valuable incentive to migrants and can help businesses retain key global talent for their ongoing work requirements – especially while international border restrictions are in place.
Greater Flexibility Within ANZSCO | Skills Shortages Australia 2021
HR teams and businesses that currently sponsor skilled migrants may be familiar with the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupation (ANZSO) job classification system. It provides businesses a standardised list of occupations to nominate a visa applicant for work in Australia. Only certain occupations recognised by the ANZSCO system are listed as eligible for a skilled visa.
The problem is that the occupations, associated skills level and duties may not always fit the available ANZSCO job classifications. Businesses are calling for a more flexible ANZSCO system that better reflects the current labour market.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has targeted the below priority areas to progress a targeted update of the ANZSCO:
- Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
- Cyber security
- Naval ship building
The ABS announced in a media release earlier this year that these priority areas will be reviewed during 2021 to inform the development of a new approach to updating the ANZSCO.
Other priority areas, such as selected occupations associated with engineering and construction and health will be reviewed using the new approach during 2021-22.
Regional Skilled Visa Concessions
Many businesses believe several concessions should be made available to allow more migrants to apply for a Regional Skilled Visa. These include:
- Increasing the age cap from 45 years of age to 50 years of age
- Capping English language requirements to vocational English
- Reducing work experience requirements from three years to two years
If implemented, the changes would provide businesses greater flexibility to engage visa holders for work in regional areas – particularly as regional businesses have reportedly been suffering severe skill shortages.
Other Changes | Mitigating Skills Shortages Australia 2021
Other recommended changes included:
- Streamlining Labour Market Testing and the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) – to make the process and costs less onerous to sponsor skilled visa holders.
- Consolidating the Skills List for eligibility for skilled visas.
- Changes for Student Visa holders to meet a two-year work experience requirement in Australia (rather than three years) if their studies are in an industry with skills shortages, they are in top 10% of graduates in their course and they have met the English language standards.
Interstaff | Migration Agents Australia
It is encouraging to see business feedback on skills shortages are being acknowledged by the Government. We will certainly keep you updated on whether these recommendations are approved.
Should you wish to discuss your business’ Travel Exemption or Visa sponsorship options, we encourage you to contact Interstaff’s Registered Migration Agents to arrange a consultation so we can assess your circumstances.
Interstaff is an Australian owned and operated business providing strategic migration advice to businesses and individuals Australia-wide and internationally since 1988.