the australian government has opened the door to more permanent migrants to ease the labor shortage
Australia – Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government has increased the number of permanent migrant visas available for fiscal year 2022-23 from 160,000 to 195,000.
The Australian government is facing renewed calls to strengthen protection of migrant workers from exploitation and abuse after announcing it will increase permanent migration destinations to address skills and labor shortages across the country.
“Our immigration system can be a powerful promoter of Australia’s open, free, prosperous, democratic society around the world,” Home Secretary Claire O’Neill said in a statement announcing the changes dated September 2. Trade unions and business groups alike welcomed greater permanence for some migrant workers.
But according to Matt Kunkel, head of the Melbourne Center for Migrant Workers, temporary visa holders will still make up a very large part of the workforce. “Our statistics show that roughly two out of three people on temporary visas are experiencing some type of difficulty in the workplace,” he said.
“We can’t see a rise in the permanent migration numbers as a silver bullet to fix the system.”
Before the pandemic hit, Australia had the second largest temporary migrant workforce in the OECD, behind only the US.
But the strict border closures imposed in response to COVID-19 meant the country reported negative net migration in 2020-21 for the first time since World War II.
The think tank Grattan Institute estimates that there were 1.5 million temporary migrants in Australia in January 2022, compared to nearly 2 million in 2019. The total labor force in Australia is 13.6 million. Between 2012 and 2016, about 190,000 permanent visas were issued annually.
The decline in the number of migrant workers during COVID-19 has exacerbated existing skills shortages and left businesses from construction firms to health clinics, nursing homes and restaurants without the necessary staff.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a record 480,000 job openings in May 2022, more than double the number at the start of the pandemic in February 2020.