Welcoming people back to Australia

IDP Education
28 September 2022

This blog piece by Warwick Freeland, Managing Director, IELTS was originally published on ielts.idp.com

We know that when people move between countries ideas, skills and histories are shared and new futures are created.

We also know that in 2020 when borders closed and mobility reduced during the pandemic, there was an immediately noticeable gulf left by the absence of new arrivals to our shores.

It reminded us that our communities are more diverse and our economies are stronger when we welcome talented, globally-minded and ambitious people from all over the world are into our society.

Currently, Australia, like many other countries, is facing an acute labour and skills shortage crisis across almost every economic sector, with critical sectors such as health and aged care suffering the most. Our challenge, as employers and a country, is to attract the people with the right skill sets to help our economy rebound. We must meet this challenge in the face of fierce global competition for skills.

Inflation notwithstanding, businesses are finally starting to see a rebound in demand and spending, but business owners simply don’t have the workers to take advantage of these opportunities – a situation worsened by continuing absence and disruption due to the effects of COVID-19.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics last month revealed there are close to 500,000 job vacancies across Australia. We saw job vacancies increase by 111.1 per cent in May 2022 compared to February 2020, just before the onset of the pandemic.

In Australia, our unemployment rate in June 2022 decreased further to 3.5 per cent. We simply don’t have the numbers of people with the right skills to meet our workforce needs.

Our history is proof of how vital migration is for Australia’s continued economic growth and innovation, as skilled migrants have brought their diligence and ingenuity to our shores for many decades. If managed well, this will also be our future

The flow of migrants arriving to Australia is yet to reach the pre-pandemic levels as countries around the world continue to navigate the pandemic and compete for talent.

As co-owners of the world’s leading English test, we see a role in helping skilled, bright people gain entry into Australia, , into our workplaces and our communities.

To get Australia’s migration strategy right, we need appropriate policy settings in place to quickly and reliably attract skilled migrants who can benefit the Australian community and succeed in Australia.

For example, there needs to be a standard English language proficiency test for study, work and migration in Australia.

We need to focus on a test that shows employers the full picture of their prospective employees’ language skills. We need a test that assures prospective skilled migrants that they can communicate and succeed once they arrive

Our IELTS General Training (GT) test is the only migration specific test that the Department of Home Affairs currently accepts as all other tests are academic in nature. The IELTS GT test is reliable, consistent and is trusted by key institutions as the gold standard. It is not a test designed for university admission, passed off as a migration test, like others in the market are. It is a test that uses everyday language, for everyday use. It is a test that sets people up for success when they arrive.

It is also the only test accepted for migration by all four leading countries who require English proficiency demonstration – Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand.

Taking and succeeding on the IELTS GT test is the fastest and most appropriate way to meet language requirements for entry to Australia.

It should remain as the Australian Government’s gold standard for entry to Australia to provide consistency, and to ensure thorough and appropriate testing for those wanting to come to Australia.

Immigration is a vital pathway to Australian’s long-term innovation and growth.

With the right policy settings to attract skilled migrants, we are capable of accelerating our economic recovery, creating more jobs and continuing to be a destination of choice for globally minded people.

Warwick Freeland, Managing Director, IELTS

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