Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has opined that the country must shift away from the immigration policies that make talented immigrants “permanently temporary” in the country. She said the country must seize the opportunity provided by skilled workers both within Australia and abroad. She called for an overhaul of the migrant system of Australia, making the process easier for skilled migrants to arrive in the country and retain talented international students in the country. She criticised the former government’s policy of expanding temporary migration while the intake of skilled permanent migration remains stagnant. According to her, staggering change in the direction towards temporary migration had significant social and economic costs. It happened through negligence rather than proper policy debate, she said.
The number of temporary migrants in Australia has increased from around one million in 2007 to 1.9 million now. However, the skilled migrant intake of Australia remained almost stagnant during this period, around 30000 annually. Because of this reason, it is now comparatively easy for low-skill, temporary migrant workers to come to Australia. But at the same time, it is difficult for high-skill, permanent migrants to come to Australia. “We’ve got the system backwards,” said the minister.
Retaining international students
The minister said international students were big untapped dividends. But they were forced to leave the country after the studies. Those who remain in the country are compelled to take up lower-skilled jobs. This is because Australia lacks a system for integrating them into a broader workforce.
Demand for a larger permanent immigration program for Australia
She also highlighted the need for speeding up the recognition process for overseas qualifications. Currently, the country is facing a shortage of nurses, but the credential recognition takes some time to complete.
So, according to the Minister, the government is aiming to end immigration policies that create “permanently temporary” conditions. This rethink on the Australia immigration system comes in a context where the COVID-19 pandemic has further intensified the labour shortage crisis in the country. There is a huge demand for workers in Australia. So the employers and businesses in Australia are demanding a larger permanent program in order to end this labour shortage crisis in the country.
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