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With a diplomatic renaissance in ties between New Delhi and Canberra, Australia is in a great position to take large numbers of Indian students and workers, and there are many good reasons to encourage such ties between the two countries.
In the second half of 2022, the number of Indian students studying in Australia surpassed the number of Chinese students for the first time. This signals that the geostrategic shift that is currently underway in the Indo-Pacific incorporates increased opportunities for Indians to come to gain skills and qualifications in Australia, and possibly to stay and work here in the long term also.
In a roughly similar timeframe, the number of occupations in Australia experiencing a shortage of labour has almost doubled from the previous year. This equates to around 52,000 unfilled job vacancies across the top 10 most affected industries.
The National Skills Commission now lists some 286 occupations experiencing a nationwide shortage, as opposed to 153 in 2021. Among the major sectors currently struggling to find workers are nursing, child and aged care, education, construction and engineering.
In February, the Australian government announced a series of extensions on post-study working rights, with eligible post-graduate applicants in specific categories allowed to work in Australia for up to 6 years after their studies in Australia have been completed.
The cap on working hours for students has also been raised from 40 hours per week, to 48.
The so-called “skills shortage” has been a significant driver of a major review of Australia’s migration system under the Albanese government.
This review, to be finalised soon, is predicted to lay down reforms which will enable the skills shortage to be addressed, including increased options and streamlining for visa holders and new applicants.