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The Australian government has proposed the closure of the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA), the body that identifies skills shortages in the domestic economy, reports fatcat.com.au.
The AWPA Repeal Bill is currently before the Senate, which will see the activities of the AWPA subsumed into the Department of Industry. According to the government, this will result in a more efficient process with less ‘red tape’.
Skills shortages identified by the AWPA that are deemed too severe to be met by the current domestic workforce are added to the Skilled Occupation List. Overseas workers can apply for permanent residency in Australia, provided they possess the necessary skills.
For skills shortages that are not deemed too severe, the AWPA advocates for greater domestic training and investment, thereby encouraging the government to invest in developing the local workforce.
Not every decision made by the AWPA (or its predecessor Skills Australia) has been universally popular. Most recently the inclusion of chefs, bricklayers, and tilers to the Skilled Occupation List prompted a backlash.
Despite this negative response, many believe that the agency provides an invaluable, independent voice to which the federal governments should listen.