CEDA's response to the Migration Strategy

CEDA has significantly influenced key elements of the Migration Strategy through its submissions and participation in consultative forums and will continue to work with the Government on outstanding areas of reform.

The Federal Government today released its Migration Strategy. CEDA has significantly influenced key elements of the strategy through its submissions and participation in consultative forums and will continue to work with the Government on outstanding areas of reform.

The strategy establishes a Skills in Demand visa to replace the Temporary Skills Shortages visa from late 2024. Consistent with CEDA’s submissions, the Skills in Demand visa will comprise three pathways targeting Specialist, Core and Essential skills. This approach will ensure that the same regulatory framework applies to all pathways, but that processes for each reflect relevant risks and benefits.   

CEDA has advocated consistently for a fast-track pathway for highly skilled migrants. The Specialist Skills pathway seeks to respond to that and will be available to applicants nominated by an employer earning at least $135,000.  Allowing for subsequent wage growth, this threshold is consistent with the level CEDA advocated for.  Stronger commitments to efficiency and timeliness of processing, including specifically a commitment to a median processing time of 7 days should greatly assist business.  

A single occupations list will inform the Core skills pathway, simplifying considerably the current approach. We will continue to push for a focus on skills rather than occupations as jobs and Skills Australia builds its analytical frameworks and knowledge base.  

The Strategy commits the government to developing an Essential Skills pathway for lower paid workers, specifically in the care sector.  We had hoped that this would have been able to be implemented next year but recognise the importance of getting the framework and regulation right to ensure it is both workable and practical for the sector and able to retain community support over time.  We will continue to engage with members and work with government to get this right as quickly as possible.  

There are other welcome improvements proposed around the Skills in Demand visa, including streamlining labour market testing which we have called for, clearer paths to permanency and the enablement of greater mobility for migrants.

Other areas of the Strategy worth calling out include:

  • reforming the points test for permanent migration to enable the selection of migrants best able to contribute to Australia’s long-term prosperity and also benefit themselves from migration to Australia;
  • strengthening the student visa process to identify genuine students with the characteristics, such as English language proficiency, that will support high quality outcomes – this is supported by CEDA research to be released early in the New Year; and
  • improving skills assessments and recognition to enable migrants to contribute to their full capability and potential.

Finally, the commitments to plan over the longer term to better manage and plan for the migration intake and population more broadly in collaboration with the states and territories, and to maintaining a tripartite evidence-based approach to identifying skills needs and ongoing evaluation and monitoring should ensure migration continues to support Australia’s long-term prosperity.

CEDA priorities and next steps

  • release research early in the New Year on how we can better utilise migrant skills;
  • work with Government on timely development and introduction of the Essential Skills pathway;
  • contribute to consultations on reforms to the permanent migration points test; and
  • advocate for transparency and publication of data on migration targets and system performance to ensure that resourcing is appropriate and well-targeted and to enable the system to evolve as needed, noting that no strategy will be perfect on introduction