Trends in the migration sector

In this video, Partner Kristopher Kunasingam outlines the growth in migration figures, what this means for the economy, why employers may still struggle to find talent, and the work we are doing with clients in the education, healthcare, consulting and auditing industries.

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[Kristopher Kunasingam:] A lot of the trends in the migration sector for 2023 seem to be a reverse of what had happened in 2022. While we saw a lot of the border closures as the result of COVID leading up to 2022, it's taken an extreme shift from that position this year. We see now the Labor Government being a bit more receptive towards the industry. They've implemented certain strategies and certain rules to make it more easier for people to remain in Australia permanently.

In 2017, there was a rule introduced by the Coalition Government at that time, which prevented people from achieving permanent residency unless you're in a particular subset of an occupation. The Labor Government has since made changes to that program, which will be introduced at the end of this year, and it now means that anyone in the industry will have access to permanent residency. We think that's really ground-shifting and encouraging the growth of our economy.

Another change we saw was the net migration numbers. Traditionally, pre-COVID, that sort of sat around the 200,000-or-so figure. Over COVID, that dropped to negative 80,000. The implication of having it at negative 80,000 is you get a shrinking economy, you get negative productivity, you get negative growth. We've now seen that increase, and projection is this year it will sit somewhere between 300,000 to 500,000. So, you'll get effectively 300,000 to 500,000 new people coming in versus those coming out. What that then means is: we anticipate a strong economy, and so we saw on 1 July, the Government introduced changes where the New Zealand citizens now have a direct pathway to Australian citizenship. That's a key change, in my opinion, which we've not seen before, and I think it really shows towards the friendship between Australia and New Zealand.

The work we've been receiving from clients in recent times has been very exciting and different to what we were seeing pre-COVID or even last year. Many of the clients we see are engaging us for work which they wouldn't have traditionally done so in the past, and an example of that is the education industry, where we're seeing a real shortage of teachers in primary and secondary schools, and now we have employers engaging us directly to get teachers from overseas to be able to fill in that gap. But in addition to that, we still have our traditional uses of this visa program. So think about your consultants, think about your health care providers, think about anyone else in auditing services.

My outlook with the migration program for the next couple of months and probably leading into 2024 is we anticipate it to be a strong market, in the sense that we have a lot more demand than there is supply. Employers still will struggle to fill in talent. My read of the market is they'll continue engaging with the visa sponsorship program to be able to source people in from overseas to help plug any gaps they find in their workforce.

Wage inflation, in my opinion, still continues to be an issue. So, clients who we assist in the manufacturing sectors will continue to express issues with locating sensible workforce numbers, and so they don't have enough people in that industry and so they're having to go overseas to help fill that gap. I think our traditional users of the work visa program, being again, healthcare, professional services and education industries, I think that will still continue toward 2023 and 2024.

So, I anticipate a very strong market for the next couple of months and leading into 2024.



Kristopher Kunasingam

Kristopher leads the firm's migration practice. He specialises in employment-related migration to Australia.

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