IMMIGRATION AND MOBILITY FOR GENERATIONS X & Y

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As an immigrant myself, I reflect on how I ended up in Sydney with a lot of gratitude, relief and sprinkles of fortune. The economy had peaked, foreign workers were getting “living away from mummy” allowance and any old journey (man/woman/person) with a tertiary level degree could attain a visa with hard work and genuine motives to stay.

We’re now in a slightly more complex situation, where a change in government leadership, consistent pressure from the conservative contingent of most of the political parties and a knock-on effect of Brexit and Donald have turned the taps off at the borders for many aspiring professionals. We only have to look at the bottleneck situation within the Department of Home Affairs – there are 200,000 applicants waiting for their passports and citizenship ceremonies to be confirmed, that’s 8% of the population when they’re processed.

It is likely the same can be said for those waiting for Permanent Residency visas. Perhaps the entry requirements will soften once these individuals are verified, but there is a plethora of geopolitical, security and economic influences on the current mobility of labour in and out of Australia. Recent statistics published by the ABS show that the Australian population is sitting at 25 million and 14% of that is over the age of 65 – growing to 25% once we hit the 50m mark, meaning the overall contribution to the tax coffers will begin to fall as our ageing population grows.

The irony of all of this, is that the need still exists in many vocations and sectors, some desperately so – Financial Services & Regulatory, Technology & Cyber Security, Medicine & Nursing and Law are constantly the front-runners, while there are whimsical murmurings of a renaissance in mining & resources just over the horizon, which previously relied heavily on migrant labour. The clear resolution to this is a steady influx of skilled migrant workers from Generation X (born 60s to 80s) and their offspring from Gen Y (80s to early 90s).

For many employers and hiring managers, there is a full Ninja Warrior assault course to complete internally before they can ‘justify’ looking offshore for talent, even though the Ibis on the street knows many professions are facing a drought for talent on ANZ shores. Speculation continues on what the consequences will be for these shortages, but speculation it remains. This was never so evident than in a recent search mandate I was engaged on, where the particular employer had been a regular advocate for hiring from offshore for nearly two decades, and suddenly was unable to facilitate this avenue due to growing pressure from both internal and external sources.

While there is a challenge to source good workers or reskill them domestically, the attraction and pull from ANZ shores remains as strong as ever – the opportunity for better earnings, a different quality of life, and exploring terrain other than a pub chicken schnitzel is still of great appeal to students and junior/mid-level professionals. This has a powerful influence on some of the talent acquisition strategies for companies here, as they will track and monitor Australians abroad, through their career trajectory to ensure the prospect of a return to an old employer becomes an eventual probability.

In summary, the next 12 to 14 months will be critical in Australia as a new election looms next May, which will shed more light on border policy, preceded by the execution of Brexit in March. As long as foreign workers really want to live in Australia and are happy to work with some temporary restrictions on their visa, while adapting to a new life and possibly having to retrain in certain fields recognised locally, then there is still avenues to pursue in order to emigrate and build a life here.

If you’re an employer that has exhausted the domestic market, but is unsure how to search overseas, or you’re looking to make a career move internationally, please do reach out and connect with any queries you may have in confidence.

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