work in Australia
Friendlier immigration policies will benefit international students working in areas of verified skills shortage. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Great news for international students who aspire to stay and work in Australia. Jason Clare, the Minister of Education, has extended the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485) Post-Study Work stream by two years for international students who work in areas of verified skills shortage.

The change Clare speaks of is one of the many agendas discussed in the Jobs and Skills Summit that took place from Sept. 1 to Sept. 2. According to the Guardian, changes to migration numbers, pensions rules and bargaining were among the headline agreements after the summit.

Currently, international students who graduate from an Australian university can travel, work, or study in the country for two to four years through the programme. Hong Kong and British National Overseas passport holders may stay for five years. Graduates can bring their immediate family members to stay as well.

Work in Australia: Industries for international students to consider

Job vacancies in Australia are at an all-time high. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics release, there are 480,100 job vacancies in Australia, a 111.1% increase since Feb. 2020.

A June 2022 ABS survey showed that more than a quarter (31%) of Australian businesses had difficulty finding qualified staff. Some skilled trades include those in hospitality, sales, transportation, construction and mining. 

Calculating the vacancy rate as vacancies expressed as a proportion of total jobs, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics also showed that these sectors were most strapped for workers:

  • Accommodation and food services (34.0%)
  • Administrative and support services (38.3%)
  • Public administration and safety (37.9%)
  • Electricity, gas, water and waste services (34.5%)
work in Australia

One of the sectors verified of skills shortages in Australia is associated with electricity. Source: Tolga Akmen/AFP

Why is there a skill shortage in Australia?

In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Jeff Borland, Professor Bob Breunig, and David Rumbens share their thoughts on the reasons for the skills shortage in Australia.

Huge demand for labour increased the vacancy rate “across all occupations and industries”, according to Borland, a labour market economist at the University of Melbourne. “We’re creating new jobs at such a rate, it’s taking time to hire and for the labour supply to catch up,” explains Borland.

Due to lockdowns, industries that relied heavily on temporary and skilled migrants were severely affected. This includes hospitality, finance, IT, insurance, mining services, and public administration.

Breunig, a public policy economist at the Australian National University, explained that many older workers had “left the workforce during COVID-19 and decided they were happy not to come back”.

Rumbens, a partner at Deloitte Access Economics, argues that Australia chronically under-trains graduates for the workforce, forcing the government to rely on migration to plug the gap. Breunig agrees, stating that many Australians get university degrees and “not enough get vocational training relative to the number of jobs” in traditional trades, such as plumbers and electricians.