LifeStyle & Health

Australia to welcome scores of international students in response to labour shortage

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The Covid-19 pandemic marked the end of the Australian dream for many foreign nationals. But the Oceanian country has recently been faced with an unprecedented labour shortage. As such, Australia has decided to change its migration policy regarding international graduates in order to remedy this worrying situation.

The Australian government considers its international students to be “an incredible resource,” as Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said at the government’s recent Jobs and Skills Summit.

So it’s not surprising that the country plans to welcome 35 000 more of them in the coming months. This would bring the total number to 195 000 for the year 2022-2023.

The government’s initiative will allow international students in certain fields of study to stay longer in Australia after graduation. They will now be able to live in the country for four years after completing a bachelor’s degree, five years after completing a master’s degree and six years after completing a doctorate.

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The eligible courses of study will be announced in October, although some local newspapers are already suggesting that they concern sectors in need of manpower, such as nursing, engineering and computer science.

This is the first time since World War II that Australia has overhauled its migration program in such a major way, notes The Sydney Morning Herald. And there’s an urgent need to act, since the unemployment rate reached an all-time low in July, falling to 3.4%.

Retaining young graduates

Australia’s labour market has always needed foreign workers to function, which explains the profound impact that the government’s zero Covid policy has had.

The country’s prolonged border closures have discouraged many foreign students and skilled workers from trying their luck there. As a result, Australia is facing some 500,000 fewer immigrants than expected, according to calculations by KPMG.

In response to the magnitude of the situation, Anthony Albanese‘s Labor government has announced several initiatives to attract more young people from overseas to the country. One of them is to shorten the time it takes to obtain a suitable visa after graduation.

According to Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, some graduates currently have to wait nearly 10 months to get one. “Canada, the UK and US have rolled out the red carpet – they are doing much better than us in retaining these young people,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald.

To this end, the country also decided to remove the cap on the number of hours that students are allowed to work off campus during their studies. This measure, adopted during the pandemic, allows them to work more than 40 hours per two weeks.

However, it will end in June 2023 to maintain “the integrity of the [Australian] education system,” in the words of Minister Clare O’Neil. Still, the news could give ideas to young people from all over the world in search of a new adventure.

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