Australia is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled labour which is impacting many sectors of the economy, something Mildura businessman Don Carrazza says the Federal Government needs to address as we emerge from the COVID pandemic, which has seen immigration halted.
Mr Carrazza is passionate about Australia’s future, which he says will rely on skilled migration, which in previous times has seen many people come to the country on special visas which allowed them to work in Australia but didn’t automatically entitle them to permanent residency or citizenship.
He says the Federal Government should provide an easier pathway for migrants with the ‘needed’ skills to come to Australia for a three- or five-year period, after which they would receive permanent residency and be offered citizenship.
“At the moment, we are in desperate need of skilled people to work in this country,” Mr Carrazza said.
“This is the time for the Government to establish a skilled migration program. The onus would be on businesses that need workers with a particular skill.
“Those businesses would be responsible for sponsoring their employees, assisting with their accommodation and offering a three- or five-year contract to them, after which they would be residents and offered the option of immediate citizenship.
“We would expect this immediate inflow to have either a basic or advanced knowledge of English language, dependent on the work they are doing.
“That way, we end up with permanent skilled people in this country at a time when we are in short supply of the right labour resources and we would fill many of the gaps that we currently have in so many sectors.
“The most recent skilled migration program, like the 457 Visa, is too complicated. It takes too long. The program needs to be agile and dynamic and could run on a sunset clause.”
As we emerge from the COVID pandemic Mr Carrazza said Australia needs to be thinking about the next wave of migration and that must be skills based.
“The Government doesn’t have to do anything other than facilitate this pathway for skilled migrants to come to Australia and it won’t cost them a cent,” he said.
Post-World War 2, Australia saw a mix of skilled and unskilled migration from Europe, many from Italy and Greece in particular, coming to places like Mildura and Melbourne where the opportunities were boundless.
Mr Carrazza and his family came to the district in 1955 and his father worked the land to become a successful horticulturist and Don would find his niche in the hospitality industry and go onto own the Mildura Grand Hotel.
Many of the unskilled migrants established themselves on blocks growing grapes and citrus.
The skilled workers found work in the newly emerging car industry and other manufacturing sectors. Engineers, bricklayers, plumbers, boiler makers, fitters and turners, electricians and carpenters were also in demand as the economy started to grow and things were being built at a great rate of knots.
Nation-building projects like the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme, described as one of the civil engineering wonders of the modern world, commenced construction in 1949 and took 25 years to build, being officially completed in 1974.
It was constructed with a labour force that consisted of 100,000 people from more than 30 countries who were employed during its building, providing employment for the many recently arrived immigrants, and it was important in Australia’s post-war economic and social development. Seventy percent of all the workers were migrants.