Skilled migration to feature at Jobs Summit
Employers groups are calling for an urgent increase to the skilled migrant intake, including a temporary two-year increase in skilled migration to 200,000 places a year, to tackle labour shortages ahead of the federal government’s Jobs Summit in September.
Meanwhile, unions are vowing to fight for better safeguards to stop temporary workers being exploited.
Employers and unions also appear to be at loggerheads over a proposal to scrap the so called occupation eligibility test.
But both have welcomed the federal government’s decision to fast track the processing of permanent visa applications by almost 60,000 overseas skilled workers.
The Jobs Summit is also likely to feature a broader discussion of an overhaul of the migration system with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying it will help drive reforms in participation, productivity, migration and women’s economic security.
The Summit will come ahead of the new Labor Government’s first budget and Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said that this was no accident.
“We’ve deliberately chosen to put the jobs and skills summit on before the October budget because there may be steps proposed and agreed at the summit which could be quickly implemented,” Mr Chalmers has told the media.
The Australian Chamber and Commerce and Industry has said Australia urgently needs more workers.
“There are long-term solutions that should be identified, but quick fixes are also critical, ACCI CEO Andrew McKellar said.
Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott has also supported a temporary increase in skilled workers but said the summit was also an opportunity to reset a range of critical areas.
Australia is seeing backlogs in visa processing and reticence among prospective migrants because of the short terms of temporary migration visas.
Employer groups say complex occupation-based eligibility tests administered by bureaucrats was also an issue.
Meanwhile, the unions say migration is one of the top three issues to be fixed by the summit – alongside the skills sector and wage bargaining.
ACTU chief Sally McManus said the migration system should be providing “opportunity not exploitation” and should priorities permanent migration.
“We have to change the system to make sure migrant workers have the same rights and protections as any other Australian worker, and are brought to fill genuine skills gaps, not to allow employers to evade legal minimum rate of pay or conditions,’ she said.
Unions are also saying the summit is an opportunity to rebuild apprenticeships and training systems.
A Treasury white paper for wider engagement will be delivered within 12 months of the summit.