Permanent skilled visas must target younger and skilled talent, suggested a report submitted by the Grattan Institute to the Australian federal government, as part of the review of the federal migration program. The report titled ‘Australia’s migration opportunity: how rethinking skilled migration can solve some of our biggest problems’ noted that “resetting Australia’s skilled migration program would lift living standards, attract global talent, boost Australia’s lagging productivity growth and boost federal and state government budgets by billions of dollars each year.”
It further pointed out that skilled migration program was not working as effectively as required and that a better program was needed. According to the report, Australia is facing a lot of challenges during the post-pandemic period, such as slow productivity growth, an aging population and a rapid transition to a net-zero economy. As per the report, in the past one decade, only a quarter of permanent visas assessed the migrants’ skills. So the major recommendation to the government in the report was that Australia must target younger and skilled talents for immigration and allow them to stay in Australia long term, rather than addressing short-term skills shortages.
The report recommended making permanent employer sponsorship available for workers earning more than $85,000 per year. The report further recommended making temporary sponsorship available for migrants in any occupation who can earn more than $70,000 a year. Labour-market testing should be abolished and sponsorship made portable so that migrant workers can more easily switch employers, the report suggested. However, the report cautioned that even if permanent visas could limit the exploitation, workers may leave the sector unless wages rise, and fewer skilled visas would mean a larger long-term budgetary cost.
Immigration Review of Australia
Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil established the Immigration Review of Australia in November 2022, where a team of experts are reviewing the immigration system of Australia. The aim of this review is to convert the immigration system of Australia to one that serves the national interests of the country and complements the skills and capabilities of Australian workers. The review is expected to focus on strategies for ensuring skilled labour for businesses, enhancing the productivity of the workers and also navigating issues associated with the aging workforce. The reports and recommendations of the review will be submitted before the presentation of the next federal budget in May.
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