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‘A war for talent’: Accountants prioritised under skilled migration list


International accounting and audit professionals looking to work in Australia will now see their visas fast-tracked, as the government looks to plug a shortage of talent in the profession.

By Jotham Lian 12 minute read

Immigration minister Alex Hawke on Tuesday added 22 occupations to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) aimed at filling critical skills in Australia amid international border closures.

Accountants, taxation accountants, management accountants, external auditors and internal auditors are now part of the PMSOL, with visa processing for these occupations to be prioritised.

Visa holders who have been sponsored by a business will be able to request an exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions, but will be subject to a strict 14 days of quarantine on arrival at their own expense.


Mr Hawke said the inclusion of the new occupations was based on consultation with small, medium and large Australian employers, business leaders and industry bodies.

“Government has received valuable feedback from Australian business stakeholders on critical skill vacancies, which has been considered together with data from the National Skills Commission, in order to develop today’s update to the Priority Migration Skilled Migration List,” Mr Hawke said.

“The Morrison government will continue to support Australian businesses, including through skilled migration, as the engine room of our nation’s economy.” 

‘Global demand for accountants’

CPA Australia general manager of external affairs Dr Jane Rennie said the inclusion of accounting professionals on the priority occupation list was necessary to address a growing skill shortage.

“Australia faces a growing shortage of accountants. But it’s not just here; accounting professionals are in high demand globally and there is competition to attract them,” said Dr Rennie.

“Unless this skills shortage is addressed, Australian businesses and the economy will suffer.

“By increasing opportunities for international accounting professionals and students to live and work in Australia, we are creating a pipeline of accounting talent which will stand the nation in good stead.”

Likewise, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand group executive Simon Grant welcomed the move, noting a substantial shortage of external auditors in the wake of border restrictions.

A CA ANZ survey of 16 of the largest professional services firms in April revealed a total of 888 auditor vacancies, with firms unable to rely on overseas recruitment and secondments.

“The audit profession is experiencing a war for talent as a result of the current border restrictions coupled with the longer-term growth in demand for audit professionals,” said Mr Grant.

“This move alleviates the pressure both smaller and large audit firms have been operating under to maintain their workforce.

“We now need to make sure that we boost their efforts so we can secure sustainable trust in capital markets during the crucial recovery phase.”

The PMSOL, which now consists of 41 occupations, was first developed in September last year based on advice from the National Skills Commission.

The government says existing skilled migration occupation lists will remain active and visas will still be processed, but priority will be given to those in occupations on the PMSOL.

The 22 new occupations are (including ANZSCO codes): 

  • Accountant (General) (221111)
  • Accountant (Taxation) (221113)
  • Accountant (Management) (221112)
  • External Auditor (221213)
  • Internal Auditor (221214)
  • Electrical Engineer (233311)
  • Civil Engineer (233211)
  • Structural Engineer (233214)
  • Geotechnical Engineer (233212)
  • Transport Engineer (233215)
  • Mining Engineer (233611)
  • Petroleum Engineer (233612)
  • Surveyor (232212)
  • Cartographer (232213)
  • Other Spatial Scientist (232214)
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist (234611)
  • Orthotist / Prosthetist (251912)
  • Multimedia Specialist (261211)
  • Analyst Programmer (261311)
  • Software and Applications Programmers (261399)
  • ICT Security Specialist (262112)
  • Chef (351311) 

Jotham Lian

Jotham Lian


Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.

Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.

You can email Jotham at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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