Principle 5: Target migration to fill skills and labour gaps

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Immigration is pivotal to Australia’s national story and identity, with Australia growing to a nation of more than 25.7 million people in 2021. Since 2006, Australia’s population growth has largely been driven by immigration, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that more than 30% of our resident population was born overseas.

Targeted and well-managed migration, informed by evidence, is central to Australia’s economic prosperity. Migration supports growth and fills labour market gaps, increases participation rates and productivity, boosts the transfer of knowledge and lifts productivity, and can help offset population challenges including Australia’s ageing population.

As we recover from the pandemic, Australia will continue to need migration to access highly skilled professionals and bespoke skill sets to support emerging sectors, drive innovation, and create local jobs for all Australians.

Many jobs in demand require years of study and experience—such as STEM, information communication technology and health care—these skill gaps may not be able to be filled quickly from the local population. Migration can also assist with transferring knowledge to, and developing the skill sets of, Australians.

Temporary migration settings need to be considered holistically with, and informed by, Australia’s broader domestic workforce objectives to ensure they complement each other. It is important these objectives appropriately incentivise business to actively develop Australian talent where possible.

In addition, many employers rely on Working Holiday Makers, international students, and workers in the Pacific labour mobility programs to fill lower skilled positions, including those in agriculture, hospitality, and care and support sector roles.

While domestic programs are in place to support Australian job seekers to take up these opportunities (such as Harvest Trail Services for regional and rural areas), temporary migrants are still needed to fill gaps in the workforce, transfer knowledge and grow the economy.

The Government is developing an Australian Agriculture Visa to address workforce shortages, which will be available to skilled, semi-skilled and low skilled workers across a range of industries including meat processing, fisheries, and forestry sectors.

Global insights

Rethink the approach to recognition of prior learning and qualifications to remove barriers and increase the speed of migrant participation in the workforce.

Canada supports their offshore education markets by providing stronger links between education and post-study employment options for international students studying abroad.