Bringing in key skills from overseas will remain a priority for Australian employers in 2023 as Australia’s jobs market continues to tackle a skills shortage. But what skills do we need, and how quickly can we get them?
The skills shortage isn't a unique problem, with other countries such as Canada announcing recently that they will significantly increase their skilled migration numbers to address their acute shortage of workers, particularly in skilled trades and healthcare.
It’s a policy that's being replicated here (although not to the same extent as Canada), as businesses compete for the skills needed to meet increased demand.
Here are the skills Australia needs, and how to secure them quickly enough.
Also read: More bosses offering work from home
Trades and IT skills are at the top of the list
The latest Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) - a list of occupations that are being prioritised when assessing migrant visa applications – shows that 26 of the 42 occupations (62 per cent) added to the list of professions actively sought are in the trades sector.
Tradies are clearly in demand – as anyone who has tried to do house renovations recently will tell you – and sourcing these workers from overseas seems a logical option.
The other skillset that stands out in the ANZSCO data is IT, with skills such as data analyst and data scientist both added to the list.
Yahoo Finance spoke with migration expert Lisa Chanesman – founder of Australian visa advisory service Exclusive Migration – to get her views on the latest ANZSCO release and how it correlates with what she is seeing on the ground.
She pinpoints technology as a growth area - in particular she sees cyber security as an “emerging profession in the Australian migration space”.
And it is not just specific IT skills that are in demand, but the use of technology in a whole range of job sectors, she said.
“As technology increases in our daily lives, there will be a need for new occupations to develop that have a technology basis,” she said, going on to add that “it may be for an occupation in agriculture or farming, food production, water or waste management, not necessarily in IT”.
The message for Australian workers is that technology is already changing not just how we work, but also the nature of the work we do.
The skills we will need, either from home or overseas, will continue to evolve, but core IT skills are going to be essential in many more professions than is currently the case.
Visa processing times are improving (for some)
While identifying key skills from overseas will remain a priority for employers well into the New Year, another recent issue is the time it takes for skilled migrants to get the relevant visa.
The Government looked to address this at their recent Jobs Summit, with one of the outcomes being an extra $36 million in funding to help clear the visa backlog.
According to Chanesman, this is already starting to make a difference with her business seeing a slight decline in visa processing times.
Speeding up the time it takes for skilled migrants to get new visas is certainly beneficial, but it comes at a cost.
“An unintended consequence of the new Minister’s processing priorities is offshore processing taking priority over onshore processing,” Chanesman said.
For example, existing visa holders wanting to move from one job to another – and therefore needing to transfer their visa to their new employer – are being shoved to the back of the queue in the rush to get new migrants here quicker.
The outcome is that many are now “stuck with their old employer for a lengthy period before they have work rights with a new employer. This is not benefiting the business nor the visa holder”, Chanesman said.
With workers conscious of favourable job market conditions, many will see the New Year as a great time to get a new role, preferably with better pay and conditions.
But for those on existing work visas, the current climate may hinder their ability to do so.
As we move into 2023, the demand for skilled migrants to address the ongoing skills shortage will continue to be high, with technology and trades remaining the priorities.
Solving the visa issues to secure these skills is, however, still a work in progress.