Australia to boost migrant intake as labour shortages affect businesses
Despite the reopening of borders earlier this year, the severe labour shortages caused by their closures in 2020 have worsened as the economy has recovered.
Australia’s unemployment rate is at 3.5% – the lowest level in almost 50 years – and is expected to fall to below 3%. But this welcome sign of the nation’s strong economy also reflects a growing scarcity of workers that has forced some businesses to take on less work or even close due to a lack of staff.
To address this issue, the federal government is reportedly considering lifting the annual migration intake to between 180,000 and 200,000, from the current cap of 160,000. Last year, the largest sources of permanent migrants were China and India – with about 22,000 each – followed by the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Vietnam, the United States and Nepal.
Australia’s main workforce shortages are among IT workers, doctors and nurses, and hospitality, trade and manufacturing workers. The Business Council of Australia has called on the federal government to make it easier and quicker for skilled migrants to be hired and to gain permanent residency.
Jennifer Westacott, Chief Executive of the Business Council of Australia, said authorities needed to quickly address a growing backlog of visa applications because “we simply don’t have enough people to do things”, according to The Straits Times.