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International Students Could Solve the Chronic Skills Shortages in Regional Areas in Australia

As Australia grapples with chronic skills shortages, particularly in regional Victoria, stakeholders are advocating for the utilization of international students to fill these gaps. Employers in regional areas, facing a persistent demand for skilled workers in various sectors including trades, healthcare, and manufacturing, are urged to explore strategies to tap into this valuable talent pool.

James Woodhall, senior account manager in higher education for Victoria at SEEK, highlighted the increasing demand for jobs in regional Victoria and emphasized the potential of international students as a solution to the skills shortage. He encouraged employers to consider offering graduate programs and support services to facilitate the integration of international students into the workforce.

Recognizing potential concerns regarding visa processes and employment readiness, educators like Federation University are proactively equipping students with the necessary employability skills. Helen Ryan, director of Cooperative Experiential Learning and Careers at Federation University, emphasized the importance of incorporating employability skills and work experience into the curriculum to prepare students for the job market.

From an industry perspective, employers can access talent from universities through various avenues, including internships and graduate recruitment programs. Samantha Taylor, Clinical Nurse Educator Transition to Practice at Grampians Health, emphasized the significance of providing support to new recruits to ensure their successful integration into the workforce and enhance retention rates.

Steven Neild, Graduate Recruitment Lead at engineering firm GHD, shared his experience of including international students in graduate programs, highlighting the benefits of diversity and talent acquisition. He emphasized the value of tapping into underrepresented talent pools, particularly in fields like engineering and project management.

Natalie Walsh, acting assistant director for Business, Industry, and Regional Outreach Victoria at the Department of Home Affairs, clarified visa regulations for international students. She highlighted the flexibility of the Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) and emphasized the importance of understanding visa requirements when hiring international students.

In addition to the Temporary Graduate Visa, employers can explore other visa options such as the Temporary Skills Shortage Visa and the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional Visa. Walsh emphasized the importance of utilizing resources like the visa entitlement verification online (VIVO) to verify the status of visa holders and ensure compliance with regulations.

In conclusion, harnessing the potential of international students presents a viable solution to Australia’s chronic skills shortages, particularly in regional areas. By providing support, enhancing employability skills, and navigating visa regulations, employers can effectively tap into this valuable talent pool to address workforce gaps and drive regional development.

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