Skilled migrants will be allowed to return to Australia as a priority group, but the federal government has yet to set a date for their return, raising concerns among businesses worried about skills shortages and hungry for certainty.
While an average national vaccination rate of 80% of those over 16 will trigger a restart in international travel for Australians seeking to travel abroad, Canberra has yet to set a restart for skilled migrants to come. here.
“The first cab to leave the line is the Australians,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on breakfast television on Tuesday. Once the home quarantine is operational for Australians, Mr Morrison said the next priority would be doubly vaccinated skilled migrants and international students.
Andrew McKellar, chief executive of the country’s largest economic lobby group, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Prime Minister’s announcement that international travel would be advanced was helpful but left businesses unanswered clear.
“While small business owners hoped last Friday’s announcement would end this uncertainty, employers still have very limited options to address crippling skills shortages,” McKellar said.
Innes Willox, who represents around 60,000 companies as chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, said skills shortages would quickly become more severe once states and territories emerge from lockdown, requiring a return to pre-levels. -pandemic skilled migration from the country.
“Our international borders must reopen as quickly as possible,” said Willox. “There’s no time to lose.”
Opening the borders will require negotiations with state governments, which control hotel quarantine caps and are responsible for testing alternatives at home.
Australia granted 79,620 qualified visas in fiscal year 2020-21, up from 109,713 in 2018-19 and well below a plateau of around 128,000 that started to decline from 2016.