457 Visa Has Little Effect On Local Jobs

14:08' 14-08-2017
In April this year, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the government would abolish the 457 Temporary Work visa, so Australian workers would have “priority for Australian jobs”.

    Photo: sbs.com.au

    The 457 is to be replaced by a Temporary Skill Shortage visa by March 2018. There will be two streams, Short Term visas issued for two years, and Medium Term visas for up to four years, for more critical skills shortages.

    The proposal was criticised by a number of sectors, notably the technology sector, which warned that it could leave the industry short of the workers it needs. It was also suggested that the education sector could suffer, with universities finding it harder to attract overseas students.

    Dr Bob Birrell, author of a report released on 9 August by independent research organisation Australian Population Research Institute, claimed the new visa was “a gain for domestic job seekers”, and went so far as to call the move a “game changer”.

    This, he claims, is because more than half the 457 visas are granted to onshore applicants who are mostly former overseas students, and employers will no longer be subject to additional labour market testing and training obligations.

    Dr Chris F Wright, a specialist in labour market regulation and immigration at the University of Sydney Business School, agrees that fewer people will apply for these visas, but doubts that this will increase opportunities for local workers.

    He points out that the 100,000 people currently in Australia on 457 visas make up less than 1% of  Australia's labour force, a figure he considers “numerically insignificant”. The 137,376 Working Holiday Maker visa holders in Australia and 401,423 Student visa holders have a greater impact, especially in hospitality, retail and horticulture.

    Temporary visa holders, Dr Wright told SBS News, are spread “relatively evenly” across most sectors, and occupy no more than 10% of any industry in any given year.

    He adds that if the government was serious about improving job opportunities for locals, it should adjust its industrial and labour market policies, by strengthening requirements for employers to train their workers, and improve the quality of jobs to attract more people to them.

    Huey L

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