Public relations industry wants to import foreign

According to the National Skills Commission’s Internet Vacancy Index, there was an 82 per cent increase in job vacancies for PR professionals between January 2020 and April this year.

Mr Allison said the domestic supply of communication professionals could not “keep up with the shift in demand from corporate Australia, non-profits and government”.

Previous government ‘didn’t step up’

The industry body has launched what it is calling a migration taskforce to better advocate for changes to Australia’s migration settings. It has partnered with EY to model the skills gaps across the industry and to highlight the economic contribution of the PR profession, and is hopeful the government will be more willing to work with the industry than its predecessor.

Mr Allison said the transition away from 457 visas in 2017 hurt Australia’s ability to attract communications talent to the country.

“The government didn’t step up during the pandemic by giving people certainty and confidence in being able to stay in Australia. We had a really disappointing response from the Morrison government during the pandemic, when they told people, particularly students, to go home, and that message really resonated throughout the community here and certainly sent the message that migrants are unwelcome in Australia,” he said.

Mr Allison said talent leaving Australia to go home during the pandemic, or having to leave at the end of a four-year visa, “exacerbated the challenges” because Australia’s “domestic skills’ pipeline just can’t keep up with the rapid growth in-demand”.

The PRIA acknowledges the Immigration Minister, Andrew Giles, is still getting his feet under the desk, but it is hopeful he will support the industry’s initiative.

“We’ve written to immigration minister Giles to ask for support of our industry and look forward to engaging with the review of the Skilled Occupations List that was funded in this year’s federal budget,” Mr Allison said.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has said Labor could ease migration caps to bring more foreign workers into Australia, as part of plans to help fill “acute” labour shortages across the economy. Mr Giles has flagged a repair job to fix the nation’s complex and cluttered visa system, which he says can make Australia a more internationally competitive destination for skilled workers.