Alex Hawke – Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs – was the special guest at the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's online conference yesterday (ACCI).
During the hour-long meeting, Minister Hawke gave an update on migration plans and explained how the government is adjusting its skilled migration program to respond to the current global situation.
Mr Hawke had the opportunity to hear from business leaders and respond to their questions, which primarily focused on workforce shortages in the hospitality, tourism, agricultural, and automotive industries as a result of international border restrictions, as well as the need for the skilled migration list to be adjusted to address the current situation, during the Q&A session that followed.
‘The Competition for labour has become more intense’
According to recent National Skills Commission data, online job advertisements have reached a twelve-year high, with openings now 96.4 percent higher than the level recorded in March 2020, the first month of COVID-19 economic restrictions.
“The demand and the competition for sources of labour has increased and our migration program will assist you and other sectors in their business endeavours,” said Hawke and emphasized on the importance of the COVID-19 Pandemic event visa for workers in critical sectors that was introduced from the government last year.
According to Minister Hawke, over 20,000 Pandemic event visas have already been granted.
Concerning the country's migration program, Hawke stated that the government is using the current gap in immigration to rethink how it will be conducted in the future, and that he is looking into expanding the occupations on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) as a stopgap measure to the current labour crisis.
“I know every sector has become critical sector at the moment in one sense and the demand for labour is high. We still have to work to open the borders safely and recognise vaccinations to bring in skilled people,” he said and reiterated the fact that the government will be working in partnership with businesses and sector representatives to address critical shortages.
According to the Immigration Minister, the government is also reforming the Business Innovation and Investment Program in order to create jobs and aid the country's economic recovery.
“Australia is an attractive destination for investors and these changes will directly benefit emerging enterprises, the commercialisation of ideas, research and development.”
The Minister stated that the Morrison Government will work with other countries to open the borders as soon as it is safe to do so, and that migration will play an important role in the country's economic recovery.
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