Australia increased its intake of permanent migrants to 195,000 this fiscal year, up 35,000 from the previous year, in an effort to assist businesses and industries dealing with widespread staff shortages and reduce reliance on temporary workers.
The COVID-19 pandemic shut down the country’s borders for nearly two years, and an exodus of holiday workers and foreign students left businesses struggling to find staff to stay open.
“It makes no sense to bring people in, have them for a few years, and then bring in a new cohort to adapt to the Australian work environment,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on the sidelines of a government jobs summit in Canberra.
“We want people to… get a mortgage, raise a family, and become part of the Australian family. Our story includes migration.”
The increase will take effect for the current fiscal year, which ends in June 2023, and will bring Australia’s immigration target closer to the 190,000 annual cap that was in place between 2013 and 2019.
In an effort to relieve urban congestion, that level was reduced by 15% to 160,000 just months before the introduction of COVID-19. The government provided no details on future numbers.
The two-day summit was convened by the newly elected center-left Labor government, which invited business groups and unions to help find solutions to key economic challenges.
The unemployment rate in Australia is now near a 50-year low of 3.4%, but labour shortages have contributed to soaring inflation, which has reduced real wages.