For the first time in 10 years, Australia is raising its cap on permanent migration in a move aimed at filling massive workforce shortages.
The country will boost its permanent migration numbers to 195,000 this financial year, an increase of 35,000 people.
The Covid-19 pandemic and Australia’s tough border policies have exacerbated staffing gaps in many sectors, with the hospitality, healthcare, agriculture and skilled trade industries being the hard hit.
With unemployment at an almost 50-year low, employers are struggling to fill the more than 480,000 job vacancies across the country.
A national jobs summit in Canberra heard this week that the gaps in the workforce have thrown airports into chaos, left the fruit to rot on trees, and put immense pressure on hospitals.
“Our focus is always Australian jobs first… but the impact of Covid has been so severe that even if we exhaust every other possibility, we will still be many thousands of workers short, at least in the short term,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said.
“[We are] moving away from a system which is almost entirely focused on how we keep people out to one that recognises that we are in a global war for talent.”
During the summit, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese committed 36 million Australian dollars (USD$24.4 million) for extra staff to help clear huge visa processing backlogs.