💬 “The government is reviewing which occupations require foreign workers to fill skills shortages.”

The government has pledged to overhaul its skilled migration system to drive economic growth and meet increasing demand for foreign workers in some sectors.

The government will review the skilled migration occupation lists to determine which jobs can be filled by overseas workers.

Employment and Skills Minister Michaelia Cash announced the review in response to concerns the current list of about 500 jobs does not reflect the demand for skilled overseas workers in some sectors.

Senator Michaelia Cash in Melbourne
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash says skilled migration is needed to support the government $100 billion infrastructure roll out.
“We have heard these concerns and are committed to ensuring there are no barriers to Australia’s continued economic growth,” Senator Cash said.

The review of the lists, which were last updated in March, will also focus on ensuring there are enough workers to support the government’s 10-year $100 billion infrastructure program.

“Skilled migration has always been a part of this country’s prosperity, but we need to ensure we are getting the right skilled migrants filling the skills shortages.”

More than 80,000 skilled visas were granted last financial year, with jobs in the ICT sector the most popular.

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However, new types of jobs such as in-demand data scientists will not be able to be added as the occupation lists are limited by the standard worker classification ANZSCO which has not been updated since 2013.

Committee for Economic Development of Australia chief economist Jarrod Ball said that made it difficult for employers, particularly in the technology sector.

“2013 to now there’s been a lot of changes in the labour market, a lot of new occupations… which are not easily able to be brought into skilled migration from the existing list so there are still some legacy issues which need to be dealt with,” Mr Ball told SBS News.

While a new Global Talent Scheme has been implemented to try to enable the technology industry, including start ups, to hire highly-skilled overseas workers, Mr Ball said those jobs should be reflected in the mainstream skilled migration system.

Regional focus

The review will examine jobs on three separate lists covering temporary skilled workers, medium-long term stays and regional occupations.

As part of the government’s “congestion-busting” policy, new visas have been created to encourage migrants to live and work outside the major cities.

Four out of five migrants choose to live in a major city.
The government wants more skilled migrants to go to regional areas, rather than cities.
Mr Ball said there was mixed evidence about the success of previous attempts to boost the number of skilled overseas workers in regional areas.

“People will take up these opportunities in regional areas in the short term and stay for two years or whatever the case may be and then move back to the cities to take up higher-skilled higher paid roles.”

Consultation with stakeholders is underway and the occupation lists are expected to be updated in March next year.

Australia’s migration program requires that no less than two-thirds of permanent visas granted to live and work in Australia be granted to skilled migrants.