Perth reclassification as ‘region’ a major win for WA economy

The Federal and State Governments have made the right call for the WA economy by reinstating Perth’s status as a regional city for migration purposes.

The decision responds directly to calls from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) to ensure WA can attract more international students and will boost our market share in this vital export industry.

This is a major win, not only for education providers and the people they employ, but also for struggling small and medium sized business as it will provide better access to the skills they need to invest and grow.

Perth’s regional designation will give WA businesses freer access to valuable skills, with priority visa processing and a wider range of occupations that can be filled through migration channels.

For the past two years, WA has seen its share of international students drop, hurting not only education providers, but causing flow on impacts across the economy in sectors such as tourism and retail. Smaller capital cities like Adelaide and Hobart have benefited from their status as regional cities, increasing their share of the international education market at Perth’s expense.

The effect of this decline is far-reaching, resulting in lost revenue. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2018 Australia’s international education contributed $34 billion to the national economy. As well as skills and student fees, education exports brought in an estimated $1.17 billion in local spending by visiting friends and relatives in 2017.

International students don’t just choose their study destination based on academic opportunities. The chance of employment after study is critical to attracting students to WA. The changes announced today allow international students studying in Perth the opportunity to remain for additional year of work after their studies.

The decision also provides a boost for businesses experiencing skills shortages. CCI’s latest Business Confidence Survey shows that almost 3 in 5 businesses in healthcare and more than 2 in 5 in mining cited the availability of skilled labour as the biggest barrier to growing their business. Perth’s reclassification will help local businesses address these skills shortages, by providing more options to access people with the skills they need.

Continuing to improve access to valuable skills builds WA’s brand as the best place to live and do business and will be central to driving WA’s economic recovery.

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