The COVID-19 pandemic has created a major shortage of workers in numerous industries across Australia, particularly within the health, business services, construction and hospitality sectors. To resolve this issue, the government included a $1 billion initiative in the 2021-22 Federal budget to reskill unemployed Australians.
However, the rollout of this initiative will not be delivered swiftly enough to fill the urgent staffing gaps in resource-affected, ailing industries and so the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) was introduced in September 2020 to help the economy recover from skills shortages resulting from COVID-19 and give the government time to implement the reskilling program.
On 22 June 2020, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke announced that four new ICT roles had been added to the PMSOL. As a result, opportunities for multimedia specialists, analyst programmers, software and applications programmers, and ICT security specialists have opened up, and will potentially allow for a greater supply of such professionals into the overheated government ICT labour hire market.
The PMSOL has been developed with guidance from the National Skills Commission. Priority immigration processing will be given to people who can perform PMSOL listed roles but these priority occupations will be subject to change as the country recovers from the pandemic.
The PMSOL job roles are defined by the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO). However, some occupation definitions are broad and cover several areas of interest. The definition of ‘multimedia specialist’, for example, could apply to several occupations, including video game developers, graphic designers and video content producers.
The So What
While skilled migration will act as a quick fix to the employment shortage, Australia has been facing a shortage of ICT professionals for some time which has been made significantly worse as a result of COVID-19. For example, in 2020, Australia saw only 7,000 domestic IT graduates. Reskilling existing workers and recruiting new IT graduates are key to repairing gaps in the workforce and meeting Australia’s ICT needs and by extension the needs of the public sector.