New Skilled Migration Strategy on the Way

The AAAA is cautiously optimistic about the government’s long-awaited skilled migration strategy, expected to be revealed shortly.

Imagine a technician with more than 20 years of experience in the UK who would not only benefit from employment in an Australian workshop but could also teach and mentor the next generation of technicians.

Sadly, the likely reason this mechanic is not here is not due to our harsh summer weather or the fear that they might end up supporting the Baggy Green – it is because of our complex and costly visa system.
A reality for so many is that Skilled Migration can be a costly and unsuccessful enterprise for both the overseas technician and the local auto workshop.

But soon, we may get a solution for one of our industry’s major headaches, with a much-needed reform of our skilled migration system on the way.

Having said this, major changes have been promised time and again. While recent changes feel like a step in the right direction, our fear is the entrenchment of a two-tiered approach to skilled migration that does not take small businesses’ concerns into account.

With the release of recent statistics from the Department of Home Affairs, many will think we have finally turned the post-COVID corner, with a 200 percent increase in skilled migrant visas for motor mechanics in 2023 compared to 2022, and some might say that the system is finally improving.

Yet, beneath these positive numbers lies a more complex narrative that highlights the lengthy, expensive, confusing, and complicated state of our skilled migration system.

Many small businesses are bogged down by the visa application process. It has become a road to nowhere that many deem too time-consuming and costly to embark upon.

Their frustrations and caution are valid, as navigating through bureaucratic hurdles and long wait times becomes a negative for many workshops that are just trying to get skilled talent to cover increased demand and fill the gaps left by those exiting the industry.

For those considering alternative routes, the prospects are no less daunting. Engaging a migration agent who knows the system appears to be a simple fix but can be a costly gamble which predominantly benefits larger businesses with multiple visa applications that fit a ‘cookie cutter mold.’
Our independent workshops, the backbone of our industry, are often restricted by this system, lacking the resources to cut through the red tape.

However, in the next 50 days, we will finally see the government’s long-awaited skilled migration strategy, a strategy they have forecast will be a shift to focus on real needs and our sector’s skill shortages.
This should provide us all with some hope, but the government needs to make sure this is more than just granting more visa places, even if they are targeted.

A real change to our system needs to make it a simpler and more user-friendly one; offer a way to have issues handled without having to bombard a local Member of Parliament or the Minister; and importantly, give small businesses expected costs upfront so they can weigh up the net gain as they would with any new hire.

Migration will never be the sole fix to the skills shortage our industry currently faces, but the current system leaves many who are skilled, want to be here, and will provide an extraordinary benefit to the industry second-guessing a move to Australia.

We do not expect the government to have a magic fix with this strategy, but it needs to get the basics right so that our skilled migration system addresses the underlying issues with the program rather than merely increasing the numbers. Rest assured, we are constantly talking to the government and arguing for a simpler and more cost-effective system.

If you have direct experience of the skilled migration system, please let us know at – your experience can help shape our advocacy efforts.

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