Visa changes lower the bar for migrants to fill in-demand jobs

A Home Office spokesperson said the points awarded for each factor had remained unchanged since 2019, as had the “passing mark” – 65 points – at which workers can submit an expression of interest for the skilled independent visa and regional skilled work visas.

“All point-assessed candidates must demonstrate at least a proficient level of English – higher depending on the job requirement – ​​and have had their skills positively assessed by the relevant assessment authority,” the carrier said. speech.

But former immigration ministry deputy secretary Abul Rizvi said there were several professions whose invitation threshold had been “pushed to the lowest possible level, which is 65”.

“If you lower secondary school teachers from 90 to 65, you obviously allowed less competent, less English-speaking people, etc.,” Rizvi said. “Basically anyone who had an expression of interest in the system in the right profession received an invitation.”

The annual priority skills list released last week shows that the number of shortage occupations has risen from 153 to 286 over the past year. Employers announced 301,000 vacancies in August, up 37% from the same month last year.

Registered nurses are in greatest demand and the aged care sector has hemorrhaged staff, with providers warning they will have to close unless they find tens of thousands more staff.

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Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal secretary Annie Butler said the union was concerned that even if the government eased access for people in Australia, they might not fully meet professional registration requirements.

“We don’t want people to have the false impression that they will find it easier to register here and find they can’t and end up being taken advantage of and end up being used as personal care workers. [instead of nurses]”, Butler said.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos called it a “recipe for failure”.

“Failure for the individuals involved, and failure for our students, for students who deserve nothing less than a qualified teacher for every lesson, every day,” he said.

The government has also moved to expand Australia’s Pacific Labor Mobility Scheme, used primarily for agricultural labour, to fill vacancies in aged care.

The diplomats will meet authorities in East Timor after viewing footage of foreign workers on the scheme specifically warning them against joining trade unions when they arrive in Australia for work.

Pacific Minister Pat Conroy said the government was concerned to see footage showing inaccurate information provided to East Timorese workers before they left for Australia.

“All PALM workers in Australia are protected by the same workplace rights and laws as Australian workers, including the freedom to join a union and the same pay and conditions,” Conroy said. , adding that the Australian Embassy in East Timor was planning to meet with local authorities to clarify any misunderstandings.

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United Workers Union farms executive director Jannette Armstrong, who raised the issue with the government, said that for the program to work effectively, “fundamental rights and protections, including the right to join the union, are integrated to ensure that workers – in an industry with a long history of exploitation – are paid properly, treated with respect and safe.

The home affairs spokesman said Australia’s labor and employee protection laws applied to all workers, regardless of citizenship or visa status.

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