Australia has relaxed its skilled migration rules for the Northern Territory (NT) to address skilled worker shortages in the region.
The relaxed rules will allow employers to fill critical skills shortages in the NT, with the region suffering from an inadequately skilled local workforce.
The NT’s Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) will also be updated to increase the number of skilled migrants who can travel to and work in the region.
In a statement, Australia’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced that relaxing the skilled migration rules for the NT was designed to increase skilled migrant arrivals.
He mentioned that relaxing migration rules would also allow skilled migrants to obtain permanent residency more easily than ever before.
Mr Hawke said that the relaxation of skilled migration rules is a special agreement for the NT to ensure it meets the demand and compete with the other regions.
Moreover, he also said that for every 600 skilled workers who arrive in Australia, 20 new jobs are created.
The NT DAMA update includes increasing the number of eligible occupations to 124 skilled and semi-skilled jobs that are deemed to be suffering from a critical skills shortage.
In addition, the new NT DAMA also provides concessions to standard skilled visa eligibility.
Paul Kirby, NT Minister for Jobs and Training, said the new NT DAMA includes sectors such as agriculture and aquaculture, which are ‘desperate’ for skilled workers.
However, local employers in NT would have to look for workers in the region before being eligible to sponsor skilled individuals from overseas.
The Northern Territory was the first Australian State or Territory to use DAMAs to respond to workforce shortages in 2015, following which eight more DAMAs have been created.
Since 2019, around 275 businesses have applied to fill 925 skilled positions with migrants.
On top of the 500 places already allotted to the NT, a further 200 places under the Skilled Work Regional visa have been dedicated to the region for the 2021-22 migration year, bringing the total to 700 places.
The NT’s unemployment rate dropped by 0.4 per cent to 3.8 per cent in January – the third-lowest seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Australia.