“The addition of a range of skills to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) list is timely and targeted and highlights the ongoing shortage of critical skills in our economy,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.
“The expanded range of priority skills also highlights the need to work more quickly towards a living with COVID approach that allows us to open our international borders more widely in a way that aligns our health and economic priorities.
“We hope and expect that those with the newly listed skills, such as in engineering and ICT, will be given priority alongside other listed skills when applications are made for both visas and exemptions to enter the country.
“The strong employment numbers released last week are a clear sign of a tightening labour market. They also back up the reports we are hearing from many Ai Group members that their ability to replace staff and expand operations is becoming more difficult by the day.
“Businesses previously reliant on temporary residents are particularly severely impacted. Since the start of the pandemic more than half a million visa holders have left Australia and the closed international borders have seen the pipeline of new arrivals dry up. These businesses are now competing more intensely for local employees and the impacts are spreading quickly across the broader economy.
“The Government’s extension of work rights for many remaining on-shore visa holders and a degree of openness to providing exemptions for critical skills to enter Australia are welcome moves that will ease some of the pressures businesses are experiencing.
“However, until we begin to open our international borders more decisively, the barriers to returning residents and new arrivals will act as a major constraint on the ability of businesses to move beyond recovery and explore opportunities for expansion,” Mr Willox said.