The federal government of Australia has expressed hope that they would soon be able to move to “stage two” of international border reopening, where foreign skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country so that the labour shortages the country is facing today can effectively be addressed. Speaking to Sky News Australia, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the opening up of borders was happening now at a very quick pace, faster than expected by the people.
Stage on of Australia border reopening
In the first phase, which started on November 1, the country is welcoming returning Australians and their families. The finance minister said that if the first phase goes well, the government of Australia will move towards stage two, in which international students and skilled workers will be allowed to enter the country.
Skill shortage in Australia
With regards to addressing the skill shortages that Australia is facing today, he said, “We’re investing significantly in our skills agenda as a government and we’re seeing economic strength that is driving many of these skill shortages and while that is a problem we need to address, it’s also a good problem to have that we have such high levels of employment, such strong economic position, that these skills shortages are there.” However, the minister has not revealed how many skilled workers will be brought in for meeting the demand. However, he said more than the number, Australia would be focusing on the quality of skilled immigrants.
From November onwards, Australia is allowing fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents to enter the country. In New South Wales and Victoria, fully vaccinated international travellers no longer need to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks.
Australia’s border closure
Australia closed its borders to immigrants last year following the outbreak of COVID-19. Earlier, the country used to accept up to 160000 immigrants every year. Following the border closures, Australia witnessed largest net outflow of migrants since World War II. The total migrant outflow was about 97,000 people last year. A further outflow of 77,400 is expected this year. The lack of migrants has created severe skill shortages across the country. As the vaccination rates are raising, Australia is all set to reopen its borders for skilled migrants once again.