Concerns raised that hundreds of jobs in Australia have been taken off skilled visa list

by Ray Clancy on April 27, 2017

in Jobs in Australia

The introduction of the two new temporary visa streams in Australia is cutting hundreds of skilled occupations from the approved list for applicants.

Work is underway to abolish the 457 temporary work visa which allowed overseas employees to work in Australia for up to four years and replace it with two new visas, one for two years and one for four years.

The new Temporary Skilled Visas (TSS) will be in place by March 2018 and details are slowly emerging as to what the change will mean. Already the list of 651 eligible occupations has been cut by 216, to 435.

It means that some 268 occupations will be available under the new two year visa and only 167 will be eligible for the four year visa. Concerns are being raised that the choice of which jobs to cut has been haphazard.

The Australian Government said that one of the main reasons behind the visa changes was to safeguard jobs for Australians. But occupations cut from the approved list include archaeologist, historian and singer which critics claim are hardly jobs that an Australian’s first attitude should apply and also highly skilled jobs in IT and engineering.

Prime Minister Bill Turnbull said the aim is to have fewer temporary visas issued. ‘Because we are narrowing significantly the number of occupations and we are increasing the qualifications that visa applicants need to have, it is our expectation that you will see a material reduction over time of people working on these temporary visas,’ he pointed out.

Employers have generally welcomed the change but indicated that the abolition of the 457 visa stream is largely political as it had become the target for critics to such an extent that it was regarded as toxic.

Jenny Lambert, acting chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, suggested that the problem with the 457 programme was one of public perception rather than the scheme’s operation.

‘Skilled migration enhances opportunities for Australians. It boosts the economy, assists in training the Australian workforce and provides business with short term access to the skills they need. While rebalancing the programme is welcome to restore public confidence, it is important to do so without stifling growth and productivity, particularly in our regions,’ she explained.

Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox, said that the 457 visa system was a highly valued programme but misunderstandings of its use and exaggerations of its misuse led it to become a target for anti-migration sentiments.

‘The new approach to the skilled occupation list will assist in identifying genuine skill shortages and guarding against often opportunistic spikes in applications for vague or non-essential skill categories. The new temporary skilled visa programme should now be considered as settled without the need for further reviews and disruptive policy change,’ he added.

But immigration lawyer Sarah Thapa said that she could not understand the thinking behind the sudden decision to scrap hundreds of occupations allowed under current visas. ‘Many of these occupations are relied upon by my clients in the information and communication technology, medical research and renewable energy sector,’ she said.

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