A Parliamentary committee has urged the Australian government to ease pathways to permanent residency for skilled migrants.
Following a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s skilled migration program, the inquiring committee recommended the Australian federal government smoothen the pathway to permanent residency for temporary visa holders in the country.
The committee also suggested that all employer nominated visas for skilled migration to Australia should provide pathways to permanent residency, provided that skilled migrants have a competent level of English and are under the age of 45.
Moreover, the committee also said that Australian employers should be given the ability to nominate their temporary migrant workers for employer nominated visas in the country, so that they can have a chance of becoming permanent residents in Australia and avail benefits such as Medicare.
Furthermore, the parliamentary committee recommended the Australian government to prioritise skilled migration to regional Australia by raising the maximum age threshold from 45 to 50 years, capping English language requirement at vocational English, and lowering the previous work experience requirement to two years.
The inquiry report also suggests that the Australian government increase the minimum wage for migrant workers in non-regional areas. If wages are increased, it would be the first time that the minimum wages for temporary skilled migrants are raised in eight years.
Earlier this year, Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke asked a parliamentary committee to review the country’s existing skilled migration system for possible improvements, and address the critical skills shortages in Australia to aid economic recovery following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Moreover, many skilled migrants in Australia with temporary visas were forced to leave the country due to the pandemic, which also factored in the formation of the parliamentary inquiry.
Following the planning, a joint parliamentary inquiry – led by House of Representatives MPs and senators – was formed and tasked with evaluating Australia’s skilled migration system.
The parliamentary inquiry looked at the critical skills listed under the migration program, and whether Australia was suffering from a genuine shortage of skilled workers in these occupations.
Moreover, the inquiry also looked at how expensive it is for Australian businesses to sponsor skilled migrants, and how difficult the skilled migration program is for businesses to navigate.
As part of the inquiry, the parliamentary committee found that Australian industries are suffering from a significant gap in the workforce, after it emerged that more than half a million migrants had left Australia since March 2020.
This led to job ads in Australia rising by 38 per cent compared to the beginning of the pandemic, as there is a lack of suitably skilled Australians to do particular jobs, said Liberal MP Julian Leeser, who chaired the inquiry committee.
Industry leaders also joined calls to resume skilled migration, and suggested the government should set up pathways for skilled migrants to return to Australia and join the workforce to boost the economy during the pandemic.
At present, Australia is suffering from a critical skills shortage in occupations including electrical engineers, civil engineers, chefs, and vets, among others.