In the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak, one of Australia’s main business groups has backed efforts to expand the annual skilled migration program to 2,00,000 persons. To help secure the country’s economic path out from the pandemic, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) is pushing for a near-doubling of the skilled migration program.
Business and industry have been battling with a chronic labor shortage since Australia closed its international borders in March last year.
The ACCI has unveiled its “Better Australia” strategy on October 19 detailing ten aims for boosting Australia’s economic performance by 2050. As part of these reforms, the organization claims that the migration targets must be set to address “severe” skill shortages while also maximizing economic gains.
“A figure of about 2,00,000 skilled migrants every year is entirely plausible,” ACCI CEO Andrew McKellar told SBS News. “This is something that will truly aid in the promotion of a better economy and general employment creation.” According to the ACCI, this figure is comparable to the 1,20,000-1,50,000 skilled migrants who would normally arrive in Australia in a regular year prior to the pandemic.
McKellar said, “Of course, one of the crucial factors here is how rapidly our foreign borders will open up.” “Of course, gaining access to quarantine-free travel will be a critical component of this solution.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg confirmed that the government is considering rethinking the size and diversity of the country’s migration program at an ACCI event on October 19. “This will have an influence on the economy, as well as the aging and demographics of our society,” Frydenberg said.
“We know that migrants are younger than the general population, Frydenberg further said, obviously, these are concerns that I and the government are thinking about, both in terms of the magnitude and content of our migration program.
A sustained focus on younger, more skilled migrants will counter an aging population and the expected reduction in the tax base and competitiveness. The “shock” to migration, according to Fitch Ratings this week, has the potential to weigh on Australia’s medium-term GDP growth.
According to the credit rating agency, Australia’s economic potential will drop from 2.9 percent per year to just 2.1 percent per year. “We don’t expect pre-pandemic levels to be reached until 2023, and we doubt immigration would rise in subsequent years to make up for the shortfall in 2020-2021,” the agency stated.
Last week, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet expressed his support for a “Big NSW” and stated that he wants to collaborate with the federal government to increase skilled migration. A rise in migration is also needed to alleviate skilled labor shortages, according to the federal government’s infrastructure advisory committee.
Infrastructure Australia released a report last week stating that additional migration will be required to cover a projected 1,05,000 job gap. However, Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has warned against “plucking data” from “thin air” when evaluating migration policy responses.
According to the government’s Intergenerational Report, net overseas migration will reach 2,35,000 persons per year by 2024-25. This comes after predictions that 97,000 individuals will leave Australia in 2020-21 and 77,000 will leave in 2021-22.