Australia’s demand for skilled migrants has been high in recent times. However, a recent report by the ABC 7.30 program highlights that there are barriers to attracting and retaining the necessary talent in the country. Fethi Mansouri, director of the Alfred Deacon Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, pointed out that Australia’s migrant intake lags behind other comparable countries. In 2021, while Germany attracted 1.3 million new migrants, and the UK attracted more than 600,000, Australia recorded only 145,000.
Several factors may be contributing to this disparity. First, unlike some other countries, Australia’s immigration policies focus primarily on skilled migration, limiting the number of migrants who are eligible. Second, Australia has strict rules relating to the recognition of skills of persons who have qualified overseas. Assessing bodies nominated by the government are authorised to assess qualifications according to criteria set by those bodies. However, it is not uncommon for certain organisations to be criticised for imposing requirements that are too complicated and time-consuming, resulting in lower application rates for assessments and contributing to skills shortages.
Finally, the global pandemic has also impacted Australia’s ability to attract skilled migrants. In March 2020, at the commencement of the pandemic, the Australian government chose to close Australia’s borders and did not reopen them until 1 November 2021. This effectively signalled to the world that foreigners were not welcome, while other countries continued to permit entry. As a result, not only was Australian skilled migration drastically affected, but the country’s position as a leading provider of education for overseas students was severely impacted and is yet to recover.
In conclusion, while Australia’s demand for skilled migrants is high, barriers to attracting and retaining such talent continue to persist. To overcome these challenges, Australia needs to reassess its immigration policies and improve the recognition process for overseas qualifications. Additionally, it needs to take measures to restore its position as a leading provider of education for overseas students and create a welcoming environment for foreign workers.
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