What the government’s new migration plan means for international recruitment

Australian citizenship form and passport

For years, Australia’s migration system has been under fire for failing to deliver the skills required to tackle national challenges around infrastructure, healthcare, IT, and hospitality.

Jackson Merrey Brunel
Manager - International Recruitment Solutions
Jackson Merrey

Last week, during a press conference delivered by Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil, the government unveiled their plan to reform Australia’s migration system to prioritise the skills necessary to create a more prosperous and secure future. Under the proposed reform, the government aims to streamline the current system by using a data-driven approach to identify skill shortages, introducing new pathways for skilled migrants, and reforming the points test used to determine permanent residency selection. How will the proposed reform affect the international recruitment space? And how can companies leverage international talent to create a diverse, highly skilled workforce?

What’s wrong with Australia’s current migration system?

Australia's current migration system is dysfunctional and poorly designed. The domination of Australia’s temporary migration program is funneling migrants into poorly paid jobs and contributing to worker exploitation. Despite national skills shortages, the current formula for selecting migrants for permanent residency does not prioritise addressing gaps in the Australian job market. This has resulted in a bureaucratic mess with a multitude of visa categories and subcategories, inflexible occupation lists, and a frustratingly slow recognition process for foreign qualifications. This complex system discourages skilled migrants from considering Australia as an option, ultimately leading to a tragedy where valuable talent is lost to other nations.

mics on a table at a press conference presentation

What changes are the government hoping to implement?

The Australian government has made significant progress in addressing issues in the migration system, including addressing visa processing times and reducing backlogs. However, there is still work to be done to address worker exploitation, reduce complexity, and improve post-arrival support measures. To address these issues, the government is proposing several measures:

  • Developing a new government body dedicated to identifying skills shortages and how these relate to the job market, training and education system, and migration system.
  • Introducing three new pathways for temporary skilled migrants.
  • Reforming the points test (which is used to determine which temporary migrants end up as permanent residents and ultimately citizens) to focus on in-demand skillsets.
  • Simplifying the current system to reduce the number of visa categories.
  • Reforming current policy to prevent the exploitation of migrants.
  • Working closely with states and territories to better plan for population changes, housing, services, and infrastructure.
  • Creating simpler, faster pathways for international students with special skills and capabilities. 

What do these changes mean for international recruitment?

If the proposed reform is implemented, it will make sourcing, employing, and retaining high-quality international talent a more viable and cost-effective process for Australian businesses. For companies, international recruitment can be a game-changer. The Australian job market facing a significant skills shortage and accessing a wider pool of international talent will help fill these gaps. In comparison with the global market, Australia simply does not have the depth of skills and experience required for many major projects. By drawing on the skills and experience of international candidates, companies have a valuable opportunity to introduce fresh perspectives and ideas, foster a culture of innovation and creativity, and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

About the author

Jackson is a recruitment & business development specialist with over a decade of experience across the mining and infrastructure verticals. At Brunel, Jackson uses his industry expertise to drive the ongoing success of international recruitment solutions. 

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