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Persistent Skills Shortages 

Three years after COVID-19, Australia is still experiencing skilled worker shortages across many industries. 

Traditionally, these skill shortages were addressed by a mix of state/territory sponsored, independent points-tested, and employer sponsored temporary and permanent skilled visas.

As the independent points-tested program became more competitive and unpredictable, the state/territory and employer sponsored programs have become the two main primary vehicles for employers to source and secure workers on visas. 

Limited Options for Employers 

However, in Financial Year 2023-24, the state/territory sponsored visa program had their allocations unexpectedly slashed by more than two-thirds. 

This leaves the employer sponsored program the only realistic and practical option available. 

Employer sponsored visas, in their present form, are complex and limited by inflexible and outdated legislative requirements.

For example, prospective employers may be looking to fill positions that are not provided for on the eligible occupation lists that is referred to by legislation. Specifically, employer sponsored visas cannot be used to sponsor and nominate workers where the occupation is not on the lists. These occupations include Data Scientists, Content Creators, and Cyber Security Engineers.

Another example would be that prospective visa applicants may not be able to meet the English language requirement prescribed by the employer sponsored visa program. 

A More Flexible Alternative 

Labour Agreements are agreements between the Commonwealth Government and employers to vary, relax or waive certain legislative requirements for the employer sponsored visa program. 

There are 3 types of Labour Agreements, which are Industry Labour Agreements, Designated Area Migration Agreements (“DAMAs”), and Company-Specific Labour Agreements.

Industry Labour Agreements and DAMAs are broader but are not tailored for the requirements and interests of specific employers. 

Therefore, it is much more advantageous for employers to consider negotiating Company-Specific Labour Agreements to obtain concessions to legislative requirements that are specific to them. 

For example, an employer in the aquaculture industry may wish to enter into a Company-Specific Labour Agreement to allow them to sponsor an identified candidate for the “Diver’ occupation via the subclass 482 visa pathway. 

The present employed sponsored visa scheme only allows Divers to apply for subclass 494 visas, which has more onerous requirements relating to age, skills assessment and Regional Certifying Body approval. 

A Company-Specific Labour Agreement to sponsor the “Diver’ occupation via the subclass 482 visa pathway will offer the employer greater ease, flexibility, and access to skilled Divers to meet skill shortages. 

Next Steps 

Our Migration Team is able to assist in negotiating Company-Specific Labour Agreements on behalf of clients, or assist clients with navigating and utilising Industry Labour Agreements and DAMAs.

Please contact our team at and/or 03 6210 0090 for further assistance.