Australia is planning to increase its annual skilled migration intake to combat critical labour shortages in the country.
The federal government could allow between 180,000 to 200,000 skilled migrants into Australia every year.
The changes to Australia’s skilled migration intake cap are expected to be formally revealed in the October 25 Budget.
The current migration cap is set at 160,000 places, which has prompted widespread calls from businesses and industries for increasing skilled migration to Australia.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) also advocated increasing skilled migration to 200,000 a year to boost Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.
Raising the skilled migration ceiling to up to 200,000 places would see Australia acknowledge more qualifications and trades from other countries.
According to recent data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there are 480,100 job vacancies in Australia – a 111.1 per cent increase from February 2020.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers confirmed that increasing skilled migrant intake would be on the agenda at the upcoming Jobs and Skills summit, as migration would be a crucial part of Australia’s economic recovery out of the pandemic.
He said raising the skilled migration ceiling sounded reasonable since the chronic skills shortages across the country were a ‘real handbrake’ on the economy.
Mr Chalmers also said there should be an opportunity to think about the best mix of hiring skilled migrants as the migration program gains momentum after two years of border closures.
In addition to increasing skilled migration, skills and education will also be discussed at the upcoming summit to be held in September, amid calls from Australian businesses to better prepare new graduates joining the workforce.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, between 120,000 to 150,000 skilled migrants arrived in Australia every year.
However, the Australian workforce was sapped of new additions from overseas following two years of border closures and travel restrictions.
Australia recorded more departures than arrivals during this period, which resulted in Australian net overseas migration falling to negative levels for the first time since World War I.