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Industry body calls for migration overhaul as skills shortage bites

Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores
09 April 2021 1 minute readShare
Industry body calls for migration overhaul

An overhaul of the country’s skilled migration program is needed as businesses continue to be hit by skills shortages that have been worsened by prolonged border closures, according to a peak industry body.

For the longer term, Australia’s skilled migration program has become more complex and expensive and needs to be overhauled, Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce acting chief executive Jenny Lambert said in a submission to the joint standing committee on migration.

She said a responsive, affordable and business-friendly migration system that has integrity checks in place is critically important to a strong, prosperous country in the future.

Ms Lambert further noted that the immediate imperative is for governments to work collectively on how the government manages arrivals, whether they be returning Australians or migrants, in a way that is proportionate to the risk and which best captures the economic opportunity. 

“Not all arrivals are coming in from high-risk countries, and important cohorts can be managed in a way that controls the risk, particularly with more of the arrivals having been vaccinated and tested overseas before travelling,” she said.

“For the longer term, our skilled migration program has become more complex and expensive and needs to be overhauled. A responsive, affordable and business-friendly migration system that has integrity checks in place is critically important to a strong, prosperous country in the future.”

Ms Lambert urged the federal government to make skilled migration more immediately accessible so business can access critical skills through Australia’s skilled migration program.

She noted that skills shortages have been exacerbated by the prolonged closure of Australia’s border, and this is evident both in sectors that have bounced back strongly as well as those that are still recovering.

“It is a matter of survival for businesses in the accommodation, hospitality, cafés and restaurants sectors to access skilled migration. But there is also a critical need for more professionals such as structural and civil engineers, surveyors and veterinarians in order for businesses to grow,” Ms Lambert said.

“Regional communities are intensively feeling the loss of migrants, not just for skilled workers, but for people to fill seasonal jobs in agriculture and hospitality where working holidaymakers traditionally filled the gaps.

“Farmers are letting fresh produce rot, and local businesses are either not opening some days, or closing off rooms, as they simply do not have the staff to service customers.”

Industry body calls for migration overhaul as skills shortage bites
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Adrian Flores
Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is the deputy editor of MyBusiness. Before that, he was the deputy editor for SMSF Adviser as well as features editor for ifa (Independent Financial Adviser), InvestorDaily, Risk Adviser, Fintech Business and Adviser Innovation.

You can email Adrian at [email protected].

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