Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association, has warmly welcomed a decision by the Federal Government to allow international students to work up to 48 hours per week.
The increase to 48 hours is up from the 40-hour limit in place pre-pandemic.
International students are a core part of the retail workforce and the ARA has consistently advocated for increased support for international student work as one of the solutions to the current labour crisis.
The ARA included this in a series of recommendations to aid Australia’s retail labour shortage in its Jobs and Skills Summit submission and Pre-Budget Submission to Treasury.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the change, which comes into effect July 1, will provide desperately needed relief with retail and hospitality businesses particularly reliant on casual, flexible workers.
“The retail industry is being crippled by staff shortages, with almost 50,000 job vacancies reported in the latest available data,” Mr Zahra said.
“International students are a vital part of the retail workforce. Retailers are crying out for workers right now and this decision will at least somewhat help alleviate the ongoing crisis.
“Shops and restaurants are dynamic trading environments that can flip from quiet to bustling at a moment’s notice – so having a casual workforce is crucial.
“This increased threshold will also provide international students a fantastic opportunity to further refine their skills and training and boost their income during a time of economic instability.
The Federal Government will also be extending post-study work rights for some international students.
“This is an important step in making Australia the destination of choice for international students – but we still have more work to do,” Mr Zahra added.
The ARA also recommended the Federal Government encourage international students with visas back into the country through targeted subsidies to help cover the cost of international flights.
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