Some 22 new occupations have been added to Australia’s Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List, including in the tech, engineering, accounting and even hospitality sectors.
The additions more than double the list to a total of 41 occupations, and serve to address the pervasive skills shortage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They include general, taxation and management accountants; civil, electrical, structural and mining engineers; laboratory and spatial scientists; and software and applications programmers. IT security specialists are also in demand.
The addition of chefs to the list marks the first time a hospitality-industry role has been included, acknowledging the current hiring challenges in this sector.
“Restaurants, cafes and catering businesses have been crying out for greater access to skilled migrants to help them recover from the COVID pandemic,” Restaurant & Catering Australia president Con Castrisos said in a statement.
“This change answers that call.”
The availability of chefs can determine a business’ opening hours, and help keep Australians in jobs, he said.
But, skilled migrants also “play a critical role in training the next generation of Australian chefs in cuisines from all around the world”.
A step in the right direction
In a statement, immigration and citizenship minister Alex Hawke said the list had been compiled following engagement with small, medium and large business employers, as well as with business leaders and industry bodies.
Their feedback was taken into consideration alongside data from the National Skills Commission, he said.
“The Morrison government will continue to support Australian businesses, including through skilled migration, as the engine room of our nation’s economy,” he added.
Employees entering the country under this scheme will be subject to hotel quarantine arrangements at their own expense.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott also welcomed the decision, saying it will help counter the skills shortages that have emerged since international borders closed.
Last week, research from Commonwealth Bank of Australia suggested that some 286,000 foreign workers have left the country.
That has contributed to challenges for small businesses such as Printhie Wines in Orange, NSW, which is struggling to staff both its winery and cellar door.
“Skills shortages create bottlenecks that stall investment and cost jobs,” Westacott said in a statement.
Equally, attracting talented workers in engineering, surveying and tech can act as job ‘multipliers’.
“Our education and training system can help to meet skills and workforce challenges over time but it can’t deliver highly skilled workers overnight,” she added.
“A doubling of the occupations eligible for priority visas will help plug skills gaps and is another step in the right direction to open up our borders safely and securely.”
The new roles added to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List are:
Other Spatial Scientist
Medical Laboratory Scientist
Orthotist / Prosthetist
Software and Applications Programmers
ICT Security Specialist