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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Inquiry into Australia's Skilled Migration Program final report

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has released the final report on the inquire into the Australia's skilled migration program and made a number of recommendations which are summarised below:

The Federal Government to build on the work of the National Skills Commission (NSC) and the Skilled Migration Officials Group and develop a dynamic national workforce plan which would co-ordinate the efforts of State, Territory 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 and be subject to regular amendments

The NSC to develop a new more flexible occupations and/or skills identification system to replace ANZSCO, a system able to adapt to emerging labour market needs and able to integrate with other functions of government currently utilising the ANZSCO.

The Federal Government to develop accepted definitions of acute skills shortages taking into account: recruitment difficulty, length of time the shortage has existed, number of job vacancies and their geographic spread, criticality of the occupation if left unfilled (e.g. nurses and general practitioners), and 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.

Consolidation of the Medium and Long Terms Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and Short Term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) into one list: the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) and review the list regularly.

Replacement of the PMSOL with an Acute and Persistent Skills Shortage List (APSSL) when the pandemic is concluded and and review the list regularly.

Provision of options for a pathway to permanent residency for all employer nominated visas especially for temporary migrants holders of a short-term stream Temporary Skills Shortage visa (subclass 482). The length of time on a temporary visa and other 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. Competent English language ability and applicants being under the age of 45 to remain.

Provision of 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 from 45 to 50; English language requirements at vocational English; reduction of prior experience required in occupation to 2 years and priority visa processing.

Review and increase the Temporary Skilled Migrant Income Threshold (TSMIT) (2017) currently set at $53,900 per annum with consideration of exemptions or different rates for jobs in regional areas.

Significant changes to post-study work arrangements granting three years visas to provide time and flexibility for graduates to find work. Awarding additional points for courses 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; worked in a job that is relevant to their field of study 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. Offer such graduates discount on the work experience component for permanent residency under the employer nominated scheme from three years to two years.

Introduce 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.

Streamlined process for intra-company transfer of executive employees of multinational companies to Australia where necessary for these companies to expand their operations in Australia, including exemption from labour market testing. Strict integrity measures and consideration of a separate visa category to enable intra-company executive transfers.

More streamlined visa application process for applicants and employers.

Extend the timeframe for employers to undertake Labour Market Testing prior to nomination from 4 months to 6 months during the pandemic recovery and exempt businesses from Labour Market Testing all together 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.

Exempt employers 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 and exempt Universities from payment of the Skilling Australia Fund levy.

Implement guaranteed 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.

The Department of Home Affairs to take steps to improve their customer service in the skilled migration program. Establish 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 for advice on complex visa applications including making officials available to discuss visa applications over the phone and allowing skilled visa applicants and employers the opportunity to correct minor discrepancies without having to restart the application.

The Final Report is available on the Australian Parliamentary website.

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