Australia should resist imposing stricter migration policies in the wake of COVID-19 and instead promote the entry of global talent who can help spark economic recovery, one study recommends.
While top talent hubs like the US are implementing tougher rules for migrant workers, Australia is poised to benefit from the entry of skilled individuals whose competencies are in high demand, according to a report from the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA).
“Migration has been a key enabler of Australia’s economic development and will continue to be in the decades ahead,” the CEDA report said.
The committee also dispelled notions that the arrival of migrant workers to the country negatively impacts the labour market conditions for incumbent workers.
“On the contrary, our results indicate that, in some cases, an increase in migrant concentrations in certain levels of qualification and experience is associated with a positive impact on wages and employment,” the committee said.
Unlike other countries that have COVID-19 cases rising daily by the thousands, Australia has been relatively successful in its response to the pandemic. The country’s crisis management strategy makes it an attractive destination for global talent.
“This will have an impact on migrants’ future decisions about where to settle and sets us up to be an attractive destination for the world’s best and brightest,” CEDA senior economist Gabriela D’Souza wrote in the report.
“However, challenges with the way our skilled migration system is structured could hamper our ability to attract migrants,” she said.
Part of the reform is to offer employers a special intra company transfer visa that will enable them to expand their presence in Australia and allow their high-calibre employees to migrate.
Apart from offering the special visa, the government can also keep track of skills that are in high demand in Australia. The National Skills Commission will develop the methodology for identifying in-demand skills, and collate the most up-to-date lists of occupations.
The commissioner can also “boost community confidence” that Australia’s skilled occupation lists are “targeted to attract skilled migrants in areas of the greatest demand that will assist Australia’s economic recovery,” the report said.
“The creation of the skilled occupation list should be transparent and responsive to the needs of the economy,” CEDA said.
The Morrison government is already taking steps to bolster economic recovery with the help of a newly created taskforce, which aims to give high-value global businesses and their talent incentives to relocate to Australia.
The Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce is expected to expand the country’s current visa scheme for sponsoring overseas workers for highly-skilled niche positions that cannot be filled by Australian workers.
“Australia has always been an attractive destination for talent and investment, but given our relative success economically, from a health perspective, and socially, we will be even more attractive,” said Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge when he announced the plans.