Australia has a 'revolving door' of visa policies

Frequent changes to skilled labour migration policies may be hurting businesses

Australia has a 'revolving door' of visa policies

Migrant workers who have been granted temporary work visas have had a positive impact on the Australian economy, but policy changes regarding labour migration are proving to be a bigger business challenge, a new industry report revealed.

According to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), the entry of temporary skilled migrants does not negatively affect the wages, participation rates, or job opportunities of their Australian-born counterparts.

However, the country’s leadership over the years has introduced reforms that constantly shift and have made it difficult for Australian businesses to find a steady supply of skilled labour.

“Governments have responded to community concern with a seeming revolving door of reviews, reports and frequent policy changes to Australia’s temporary skilled migration program,” the CEDA report claimed.

In 2018, the Turnbull administration limited the range of occupations eligible for the temporary skill shortage visa scheme then imposed mandatory labour market testing. These reforms, CEDA noted, were introduced without holdin consultations with the business sector.

READ MORE: Government to abolish 457 working visas

CEDA is now calling for the removal of these barriers to labour migration by implementing a more transparent method of identifying where there is a labour shortage and by scrapping the “inflexible” labour market testing requirement.

“We think that having skilled workers come to Australia, demonstrate their skills in the workplace, live in Australia for a time, demonstrate that it works for them as well as the business they’re working for is actually a positive thing,” Melinda Cilento, CEO of CEDA, told Guardian Australia.

To stay competitive, Australian businesses will need access to world-class talent, Cilento said. But certain barriers may shun top talent from migrating to the country.

“If people are feeling like we’ve got skill gaps here and they can’t readily compliment them through temporary skilled migration into Australia,” she said, “I think that’s certainly something that they would think about.”

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