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CA ANZ pushes for ‘better targeted’ migration strategy

Business

The professional accounting body called on the government to go further in plugging audit and accounting gaps that “cannot be filled by domestic talent.”

By Nick Wilson 12 minute read

CA ANZ has welcomed certain aspects of the government's migration strategy while calling for it to go further to address audit and accounting shortages.

While the budget provided for net overseas migration cuts of up to 110,000 over the forward estimates, it included new measures to better draw highly skilled migrants.

Over two-thirds of the designated 185,000 permanent migration allowance will be made up of those on skilled visas, with boosts to employer-sponsored visas.

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In 2022–23, accountants, auditors, and company secretaries made up the fourth most populated cohort of permanent skilled migrants behind midwives and nurses, engineers, and business and systems analysts and programmers.

CA ANZ has long advocated for targeted migration pathways to address the industry’s skills shortages where they “cannot be filled by domestic talent.”

“Our focus is on how to better target points tested visas to meet Australia’s accounting and audit skills needs and improve skilled employment outcomes,” it said.

The budget also committed $15 million over three years from 2024–25 to educate migrant workers regarding workplace safeguards, compliance, and protections.

That said, the professional accounting body said its members had raised about the impact of certain aspects of the budget’s migration strategy including changes to work experience requirements for temporary skill shortage visas.

Applicants will be required to have only one year of full-time work experience relevant to their role before an employer can sponsor them, where previously it was two years.

“This change will likely result in greater numbers of applicants. However, our members have told us that employers using sponsored visas are generally looking for accounting and audit professionals with at least two to three years of relevant work experience,” it said.

CA ANZ members had also indicated “great concern” that certain understaffed occupations might not be included in the government’s draft Core Skills Occupation List (CSOL).

“External auditors continue to be in critical shortage, with employers relying on the skilled visa program to supplement the domestic talent shortfall,” it said, adding that it will submit this issue to the government.

It also called for assistance in reforming the professional year program for accounting which, CA ANZ said, has demonstrated “superior employment outcomes for graduates.”

“The migration strategy found over 50 per cent of graduate visa holders with a bachelor’s degree or higher are working significantly below their skill level, despite studying in areas in shortage, like accounting,” it said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ migration strategy was roundly criticised by the coalition for failing to make the necessary cuts.

“Australia is a proud migrant nation and we will remain so. But we also need to face the reality,” shadow treasurer Angus Taylor told the National Press Club on Tuesday.

“Labor plans to bring in 1.67 million migrants over five years whilst falling 400,000 homes short of its housing targets. 1.67 million is up from 1.6 [million] at mid-year end of financial year, 1.5 [million] at the last budget, 1.2 million from Labor’s first budget and 1.1 million when we left government. This is a government that has lost control.

Asked about the shadow treasurer’s appearance at the Press Club, Chalmers said he was in “absolute shambles,” adding that it had undermined opposition leader Peter Dutton’s earlier commitments.

Taylor called for a 25 per cent cut to migration for two years followed by a “gradual balancing” involving an emphasis on skilled visas to support the construction industry, while Dutton had teased a 38 per cent reduction.

Asked to justify the disparate figures, said “At the end of the day, we think we can free up 100,000 homes for Australians and it is not hard to work out the calculations that I have to support that.”

“[Taylor] couldn’t explain the migration numbers which are at the very core of Peter Dutton’s Budget reply. This was the most shambolic appearance by a senior politician at the National Press Club in memory,” Chalmers said in a Launceston doorstop interview.

“This was the most important speech that Angus Taylor has to give this year, and he has stuffed it up really badly. Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor’s credibility was already not substantial, and now it is non‑existent as a consequence of this absolute shambles that we’ve seen at the Press Club.”

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