Australia should redesign its temporary skilled migration program to lift the living standards of the Australian population.
According to a new Grattan Institute report, the current migration program is unpopular with the Australian public, hinders potential benefits of temporary skilled migration, and allows immoral employers to exploit workers.
The report also suggests that Australia should introduce a new temporary skilled migration visa that will lift Australians’ living standards, boost the budget, attract global talent to the country and reduce exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers.
Speaking on the findings of the report, lead author and Grattan Institute Economic Policy Program Director Brendan Coates said Australia has the worst of both worlds due to its broken temporary skilled migration policy.
He suggested a complete overhaul of Australia’s temporary skilled migration program to allow the country to attract and sponsor high-skilled migrants that the workforce desperately needs.
This would also ensure the Australian public support for migration is not undermined.
According to the report, the key to improving Australia’s temporary skilled migration program is to stop sponsoring low-skill, low-wage temporary workers.
This would allow the temporary skilled migration program to expand for employers to sponsor temporary skilled migrants with higher skill levels and wages.
The current policy allows employers to sponsor temporary skilled migrants in occupations that are suffering from skills shortages; however, it is practically impossible for the Australian government to identify such occupations on time.
Under the existing temporary skilled migration policy, over 50 per cent of sponsored workers in Australia earn lower wages than the typical full-time Australian worker – up from 38 per cent in 2005.
However, reforming the policy to attract and sponsor high-skilled migrants would bring more knowledge and ideas, and these migrants would also pay more in taxes than they would receive in public services and benefits.
The report also recommends introducing a ‘Temporary Skilled Worker’ visa to replace the existing Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482).
The new visa would allow Australian employers to sponsor high-skilled migrants in any occupation, provided the annual wages are $70,000 – the same as an Australian doing the same job.
The proposed Temporary Skilled Worker visa would grant migrants the right to stay and work in Australia for up to four years, with no restrictions on renewal and a clear pathway to permanent residency in the country.
Moreover, the new visa would allow skilled migrants to move away from unethical employers and switch to better sponsors.
The report also claimed that under the Grattan plan, full-time jobs eligible for temporary sponsorship would rise to around 66 per cent from 44 per cent.
Following these recommendations would offer a better deal for all Australians, the report concluded.