A parliamentary committee has recommended that the Australian government use the Covid pandemic as an opportunity to overhaul its skilled migration programme “to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants,” the Guardian reports.
In a report published on Monday, the committee found that more than 500,000 temporary migrants had left Australia since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lack of skilled migrants coupled with record low unemployment has led to major skill shortages in many sectors of the Australian economy, it warned.
The report recommends that all employer-nominated visas should provide the option of a path to permanency provided people had competent English language skills and were under the age of 45.
The committee also recommended consolidating the current skills lists, replacing the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations system, providing more concessions for regional visas, improving the customer service function of the Department of Home Affairs, and relaxing some labour market testing requirements.
Australia remains one of the most popular destinations for skilled South Africans looking to leave the country, despite a tightening of requirements in recent years.
The most recent data from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs shows that 3,743 migrants from South Africa moved to the island country in 2019/2020.
The department’s data shows that the majority of South African migrants entered on a skilled visa (3,260), with 427 entering on family and child (56) visas.
This is a slight decrease from prior years with 3,861 migrants reported in 2018/2019 and 4,235 migrants reported in 2017/2018.
While this decrease can partly be attributed to Covid-19 and restrictions on movement and travel, it is clear that Australia’s stricter visa requirements and other factors have also had an impact on potential South African migrants.
In 2010/2011, over 8,612 South African migrants were reported as part of the programme – over twice as many than what was recorded in 2019/2020.
South Africa has slipped from fifth to eight in Australis’s ranking for migrant countries.