Migration 'not the only answer' to skill shortages: treasurer

Statement follows government predictions of smaller, ageing population

Migration 'not the only answer' to skill shortages: treasurer

Raising the migration rate isn't the only solution to Australia's skill shortages, according to Treasurer Jim Chalmers, amid calls for a migration boost.

While migration has been a "really crucial part" of Australia's economic success, Chalmer stressed that raising its cap is "certainly not the only answer" to skill shortages.

"It's not a substitute on its own for the other things that we are doing — whether it's training Australians for job opportunities, whether it's making it easier and cheaper for parents, particularly new mums to work more if they want to and to earn more, whether it's all of these other steps we're taking in housing and infrastructure and the NBN, and energy policy.

“All of these parts of our economic plan are absolutely crucial to building the kind of workforce that can support a population, which is getting a bit older with all of the pressures that that puts on the budget," Chalmers told ABC News in an interview.

Population statement

He made the remarks as the government released its 2022 Population Statement, which revealed a smaller and older population in the face of a tight labour market.

The government is being urged by various groups to address this challenge in the labour market demand through a migration boost.

"By increasing the migration cap and improving pathways for overseas talent to enter the country, we can help ensure that there is a sufficient workforce to meet the needs of the industry," said Shaun Schmitke, acting CEO of Master Builders Australia.

The government recently raised the cap of its Migration Programme ceiling to 195,000 in 2022-23, which is 35,000 higher than the previous limit.

Migration system under review

Australia has placed its migration under the review of three experts, pooling research, analysis, and consultations from unions, industries, businesses, among others.

Master Builders made several recommendations in its submission to the government, according to Mirage news, including raising the migration cap to 200,000 places in 2023-24 and 2045.

The Business Council of Australia also unveiled its submission this January, making 25 key recommendations that included reassessing the age limit for permanent residency visas.

"Australia should aim for a reset on migration that not only attracts migrants back to our shores and tackles workforce shortages, but also helps set the country up as a high-productivity, high-skill, and high-wage frontier economy," the BCA said in its submission.

Submissions were opened until December 2022, while the results of the review are expected to be reported early this year.

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