Australia raises permanent migration cap to 195,000

Businesses welcomed the decision aimed at resolving the workforce shortage

Australia raises permanent migration cap to 195,000

Australia's permanent Migration Programme ceiling will be going up to 195,000 in 2022-23, 35,000 higher than the previous cap, according to the government, in a bid to "help ease widespread, critical workforce shortages" across the country.

The increase is one of the 36 immediate initiatives agreed upon by the Albanese government following the Jobs and Skills Summit, where the government also agreed to extend visas and ease work restrictions on international students, as well as provide more funding to resolve the visa backlog.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) welcomed these announcements in a statement, stressing that the changes will be "instrumental in resolving Australia's chronic skill shortages."

"Changes announced by the government are a win, not just for businesses, but for all Australians," said ACCI chief executive Andrew McKellar in a statement.

According to McKellar, businesses of every size are being forced to operate below their capacities or even shut down because of the "significant barriers" to getting the skilled workforce that they need.

"With labour and skill shortages at their most severe levels in 48 years, raising the migration intake and addressing protracted visa processing times will be essential in addressing unmet labour demand," said the ACCI chief executive.

McKellar pointed out that the country has thrived because it attracted the most talented people, but the system has since "fallen short" on delivering the demands of workers, businesses, and society in general.

"As the global race to attract skilled migrants heats up, we cannot risk getting left behind," said McKellar. "Government must make it easier to access the best in global talent and expertise. For business, this means access to a simple, affordable, and responsive migration system."

Read more: Unions and employers agree: more migrants needed to fill skills shortage

Other 'immediate initiatives'

Meanwhile, the other "immediate initiatives" the Albanese government also agreed to include:

  • The additional $1 billion in joint Federal-State funding for fee-free TAFE in 2023 and accelerated delivery of 465,000 fee-free TAFE places
  • A one-off income credit so that Age Pensioners who want to work can earn an additional $4,000 over this financial year without losing any of their pension
  • Flexibly utilising $575 million in the National Housing Infrastructure Facility to invest in social and affordable housing, and attract financing from superannuation funds and other sources of private capital
  • Modernising Australia's workplace relations laws, including to make bargaining accessible for all workers and businesses
  • Amending the Fair Work Act to strengthen access to flexible working arrangements, make unpaid parental leave more flexible and strengthen protection for workers against discrimination and harassment
  • Improving access to jobs and training pathways for women, First Nations people, regional Australians, and culturally and linguistically diverse people, including equity targets for training places, 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service, and other measures to reduce barriers to employment

According to the Albanese government, its central economic and fiscal policy objectives are full employment, productivity growth, and equal opportunities for women.

"We will work towards reducing barriers to employment so that all Australians have the opportunity to participate to their full potential," it said. "We thank those who stepped up and spoke up at the Summit and the more than 100 roundtables held prior to the Summit in communities across the country, for their fresh ideas and open and constructive approach to addressing our nation's big economic challenges."

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