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Jobs and skills summit to look at skilled migration issues

Australian government intends to target the area of permanent migration to help alleviate some of the employment issues facing Australian businesses.

“There is no silver bullet – we need to address critical labour shortages, build up skills; make it easier to get back into the workforce and make it much easier to do business in Australia,” said Jennifer Westacott chief executive of the Business Council of Australia. She also said that the backlog of visa approvals needs to be addressed quickly.

Although initially expected that the government may increase the migrant intake to between 180,000 and 200,000 annually. The levels for the 2022-23 fiscal year will remain at 160,000 with just over 109,900 in the skilled stream and 50,000 for family migration (compared to 79,600 skilled and 77,300 family in the 2021-22 program

Ms Westacott also said that the government needs to concentrate on long-term planned migration with pathways to permanent residency.

It has been widely tabled that Australia has desperate shortages in IT, trades, aged care, health care, tourism and hospitality professions but these are not the only areas suffering from a shortfall of willing workers. Australia has the second highest labour shortage

among OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

In the past qualifications and skills gained overseas were not readily translated to Australian standards with many migrants having to re-study their existing qualifications in Australia. However, the government is now considering other options such as ‘bridging training’ which would allow workers to enter their field of expertise more quickly and so be of greater benefit to Australian businesses.

The government through Minister Andrew Giles said it didn’t rule out the creation of a dedicated visa category to encourage skilled foreign workers to settle in regional Australia.

“What we are determined to do as we look at the role that skilled migration can play in rebuilding the Australian economy,” he told ABC Radio. “And by rebuilding, I mean not just focusing on the crises that we need to address right now but having a clearer, longer-term vision of how our labour market will look like and the role of skilled migration in that.”

Adam Bandt leader of the Greens will attend the jobs and skills summit as will Nationals leader David Littleproud but leader of the opposition Peter Dutton has refused his invitation and will not attend. The summit is to take place in Canberra from 1-2 September and will bring together unions, employers, civil society and governments to address shared economic challenges.

The Albanese government is expected to reveal its migration cap in the October budget.

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