What is the change? A revised Critical Skills list is now expected to be drafted in November and finalized in 2020. The list designates occupations deemed critical to the economy and for which high-skilled foreign workers may be granted Critical Skills visas.

What does the change mean? Earlier this year the government was expected to release a more restrictive Critical Skills list. The new schedule suggests that the government will be conducting further research and consultations before releasing the revised list.

  • Implementation time frame: A draft Critical Skills list is expected around November. A report by the Department of Higher Education and Training is expected around March, and the Department of Home Affairs will further refine the list thereafter.
  • Visas/permits affected: Critical Skills Visas.
  • Business impact: The list affects which occupations companies are eligible to recruit foreign workers to fill without the need for labor market testing. Businesses have been advocating for a broader list to address labor shortages, especially in the key sectors of tech and science.

Background: A revised Critical Skills list was expected to be released earlier this year. A draft version was circulated in March that excluded general managerial roles. In part because of business sector concerns that the draft version would make it more difficult to attract foreign expertise and investment, the government put that draft on hold and did not issue a final list. The current list, which contains about 211 categories, was published in June 2014.

Analysis & Comments: The deliberative process in revising the Critical Skills list is welcome news. Deloitte provided input to the government regarding the proposed list in September 2018 and continue to engage with policymakers to advocate expansion of the Critical Skills list. It is hoped that the Department of Home Affairs will take into account the concerns expressed by businesses about their labor needs and current shortages of qualified experts in key sectors.

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