Australian businesses and industries have urged the government to speed up visa processing times for skilled migrants.
Business owners in Australia say labour shortages will take two to three years to overcome unless the migration process is expedited.
Welcoming more skilled migrants has become a necessity for Australia amidst continuing labour shortages following the pandemic.
Australia’s current skilled migration levels are similar to the depleted 2020-21 levels, with a backlog in visa processing being blamed.
Alexi Boyd, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA), said the biggest problem faced by small businesses in Australia is labour shortages.
She described the lack of skilled workers as an ‘extreme situation’ for small businesses.
Ms Boyd also said several industries in Australia have been crying out for years to have the skilled migration list increased, and the federal government needs to address labour shortages in the country.
According to Ms Boyd, Australia needs to invest more in resources for speeding up visa processing and simplifying the employment process for skilled migrants.
She also said that it would greatly benefit small businesses if skilled migrants and eligible international students had pathways to Australian citizenship and permanent residency.
She said that skilled migrants and eligible international students who are ready and willing to step up to help the Australian workforce bring with them unique sets of skills that the local labour pool cannot manage.
The Australian government has announced a skilled migration cap of 160,000 places for the 2022-23 migration year, but will dedicate about 70 per cent of the visa allocations for skilled migration.
Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke said the Morrison government will focus on Australian skilled migration as it aims to return to a pre-pandemic migration ratio of two-thirds skilled streams and one-third family streams.
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs also claimed the 2022-23 migration program would focus on addressing critical skills shortages in Australia, and the increase in places would help lower the number of pending applications.
After labour shortages had built up in Australia over the years, many businesses and industries have called on the government to raise the skilled migrant intake ceiling to 190,000 places.
Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox suggested an increase in skilled migration was a welcome move for businesses and industries, but it would not be enough to eliminate skills and labour shortages in Australia.