Australian business leaders have called for the skilled migration cap to be lifted to address acute labour shortages in the country.
In its submission to the 2022-23 budget, the Business Council of Australia (BCA) recommended that Australia’s skilled migration cap be lifted to 220,000 places for the next two financial years.
The BCA also called for the pre-election budget on March 29 to focus on improving the skill levels of Australia’s workforce.
Skilled migration to Australia was largely stifled last year by border closures and travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
With the country facing a shortage of skilled workers and a significant portion of the workforce approaching retirement age, Australia’s need for skilled migrants is greater than ever before.
To counter the growing skills shortage in Australia, the BCA proposed increasing Australia’s current skilled migration cap to 220,000 for the next two fiscal years before returning to the current cap of 190,000 in 2024-25.
The BCA also put forward a new and ambitious national skills agreement that will provide training according to the needs of learners and employees.
Furthermore, it suggested a 12-month extension to the Boosting Apprentice Commencement wage subsidy at a stepped down rate.
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of BCA, said that Australia needs to pour all its effort into addressing the structural issues that are threatening to stall the momentum of recovering from acute skills shortages.
Australia should also lay the foundations for more long-term and stronger economic growth, Ms Westacott said.
She explained that Australia has moved past the point where it can wait for the pandemic to reach its cessation and that the government should work on speeding up the pace of recovery.
According to Ms Westacott, the Australian government should ensure that businesses can move forwards faster and sustain growth led by the private sector.
The BCA also put forward ideas to help Australian businesses, such as urging support for states that want to progress a tax reform and seeking a 20 per cent investment allowance for all companies that would ensure more sustained improvements in investment.
Moreover, the BCA also suggested that Australia should introduce fast-track approval lanes for trusted and regular clients of the Foreign Investment Review Board to send positive signals to foreign investors.