Essential workers are very important to keeping Australia running during the Coronavirus pandemic and to helping people and the economy to recover from the impact of the pandemic. There is a lot of uncertainty about who is and who is not an essential worker.
There is also substantial (though not complete) overlap between the critical sectors and occupations which have been mainstays of the Australian migration program. Existing gaps in the Australian labour market have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who is an essential worker?
Who is an essential worker or critical worker is not fixed, with the definition varying in different contexts.
Generally, the following occupations have been said to be essential workers:
- School teacher
- Public servant
- Supermarket staff
- Stock filler at supermarket
- Delivery drivers
- Garbage truck drivers
- Mail carrier
- Any worker who is supporting their family
Essential workers are allowed and encouraged to continue working, while the remaining workers are encouraged to stay home during the pandemic.
Further, only essential persons are being permitted to travel between certain states, such as from Victoria into South Australia. This is currently limited to workers with essential skills, transport or those with a compassionate reason for entering.
What are critical sectors?
Critical sectors have been identified as relevant for a number of sectors, including prioritisation of certain visa programs.
These relevant areas include:
- Concessions for Working Holiday Makers
- Areas of work suitable for the COVID-19 Pandemic 408 visa
- The Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
- Global Talent Independent visa
The critical sectors have been identified for the AGEE stream of the 408 visa as being:
- Food processing
- Health care
- Aged care
- Disability care
- Child care
For Working Holiday makers, the following sectors have been identified:
The PMSOL has focused on the following critical industries:
The areas considered as critical areas for the Global Talent Independent visa in which Australia needs to enhance its competencies to remain or become globally competitive are:
- Space and Advanced Manufacturing
- Energy and Mining Technology
- Cyber Security
- Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT
As can be seen, health is the main critical sector that remains common among these. Other sectors may be considered critical for one purpose, but not for the others (such as IT for GTI and PMSOL, but not for WHM or the 408 AGEE).
Critical Sectors to Australia’s economic recovery from the pandemic
Many sectors will be critical to Australia recovery from the economic impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. The continued operation of key industries in each state will be critical to the economic recovery of Australia overall.
From data from the ABS, “Health care and social assistance” is the main employing industry for most states in Australia (except for ACT and NT, for which it is “Public administration and safety”).
Healthcare will be not only critical to assisting the community during the pandemic, but also critical to supporting the economic recovery from the pandemic.
Tourism and hospitality industries are likely to continue to feel the impact of the pandemic for a long time, as border restrictions persist.
The Australian government appears to recognised this, as shown in the release of the PMSOL occupation list and the various changes to facilitate and encourage migration for essential and critical workers.
This is also supported by recent investigations, such as the South Australian Parliament’s recent Inquiry into the Economic Contribution of Migration to South Australia.
What occupations and what visas?
It appears that the following occupations are considered as critical occupations:
- 111111 Chief Executive or Managing Director
- 133111 Construction Project Manager
- 233512 Mechanical Engineer
- 253111 General Practitioner
- 253112 Resident Medical Officer
- 253411 Psychiatrist
- 253999 Medical Practitioner nec
- 254111 Midwife
- 254412 Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
- 254415 Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
- 254418 Registered Nurse (Medical)
- 254422 Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
- 254423 Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
- 254499 Registered Nurses nec
- 261312 Developer Programmer
- 261313 Software Engineer
- 312911 Maintenance Planner
This was recently solidified in the Australian Government’s new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL).
For critical workers, the following visa options might be relevant:
- 408 visa AGEE stream
- 482 visa
- 494 visa (for regional areas)
- GTI visa (for field-leaders in critical sectors)
- 189 visa
Do you need help?
Our team of experienced Immigration Lawyers and Migration Agents look forward to assisting you with your Australian visa or appeal.
Based in Adelaide South Australia, we provide Australian Immigration advice to people and businesses from all over the world.
If you require further information regarding your Australia visa options you can contact us through: