The temporary skilled migration system makes up 9 per cent of the total temporary migration system. Currently, an overseas worker who wants to ply their trade as a skilled sponsored worker must apply for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (TSS) – subclass 482. Workers who apply for this visa within the short term and medium-term stream must be paid above the TSMIT of $70,000 by their employers.
WHY ACTION IS NEEDED
A review of the system in April 2023 found that it does not work the way it was intended to. This single employer sponsored model has led to a power imbalance between the migrants and their employers resulting in worker exploitation. Migrants have limited scope to change their employer without risking their visa status. A lack of clear pathways to many temporary skilled migrants means Australia risks losing this young talent pool to other nations like Canada and USA.
A NEW SKILLS IN DEMAND VISA
Australia needs to do better to attract innovative and productive migrants and build a system that encourages rather than prevents workers in emerging occupations to join the Australia labour force. To bolster its position in the global labour market, the Australian government will introduce a new 4-year temporary skilled worker visa – the Skills in Demand visa. This will replace the complex single employer sponsored Temporary Skill Shortage visa. A key feature of this visa is that it will be designed on elements that will ensure reduced barriers to job switching in the labour market, thereby leading to a more productive workforce and prevent worker exploitation. Switching employers also contributes to higher employee productivity with higher wages and job satisfaction. It will also provide workers clear pathways to PR for those who want to pursue them.
CREATE THREE TARGETED PATHWAYS
The government will create three targeted pathways within the Skills in Demand visa:
- Specialist Skills Pathway
- Core Skills Pathway
- Essential Skills Pathway
Specialist Skills Pathway
This pathway will be for highly skilled applicants who will assist businesses in Australia to acquire specialist knowledge, niche technologies or research expertise unavailable within the country and skillsets not defined in occupational lists. For example, engineering managers with skills that will help Australia move to a net zero economy, cyber specialists and software engineers that will help Australia embrace AI transformation. These individuals will need to earn at least $135,000 (Specialist Skills Threshold) and no less than Australian workers in the same occupation. This threshold will be indexed annually through legislation and a monitoring mechanism will be established to ensure that migrants are not paid less than their nominated salary.
Core Skills Pathway
This will be available to applicants whose occupation is on a new Core Skills Occupation List. Most temporary skilled migrants are expected to come through this pathway. The TSMIT threshold for this pathway is set at $70,000 – meaning workers under this stream will have to be paid at or above this threshold. Trades workers, registered nurses, teachers, machinery operators and drivers will be eligible to apply under the Core Skills Pathway as long as their occupation is on the Core Skills Occupation List and their salary meets the threshold.
Essential Skills Pathway
This is for applicants who are on the low pay spectrum and have essential skills that the market needs where a genuine shortage exists. The government is primarily considering the pathway in the context of the care and support economy, which has become essential to the quality of life of Australians. In early 2024 the government will further evaluate how to regulate this pathway for lower paid workers with essential skills in consultation with state and territory governments, unions, and businesses. This pathway would be capped, regulated, and sector specific.
Source: © Commonwealth of Australia, Migration Strategy 2023.