New government silent on 457 visa programme’s future

by Ray Clancy on September 23, 2013

in Australia Immigration

The new government in Australia has still to indicate where it stands on recent changes to the 457 visa programme which have sparked a debate over whether it means less jobs for Australians.

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Australia’s new government has yet to indicate where it stands on recent changes to the 457 visa programme.

Access to the 457 visa, the most commonly used visa stream for temporary overseas workers, has become tighter amid claims that it was being misused by employers.

The Migration Council of Australia says 457 visas finds that play a critical role in securing foreign investment and enabling growth and that it is a programme that helps create Australian jobs.

The MCA’s recent report ‘More than Temporary’ stated that the 457 programme is one that the government should be rightly proud of. A survey of 3,800 visa holders found that 76% of visa holders help to train and develop Australian workers.

‘Four out of five multinational companies are using 457 visa holders to train and develop Australian workers, the survey results reinforce that skills transfer and knowledge from 457 visa holders play an important role in building Australia’s human capital,’ said Carla Wilshire, chief executive officer of the MCA.

She pointed out that the findings show that the 457 visa programme is critical in keeping Australia competitive in an era when industry is global and 98% of innovation happens outside of Australia.

‘Temporary migration does not just fill skills shortages, it addresses skills deficits and plays a central part in workplace development at the enterprise level. The report also confirms that 85% of employers are satisfied with the scheme and that most employers are using the programme to fill skills shortages,’ Wilshire explained.

The report did identify some compliance issues pointing to the need to strengthen the monitoring framework and Wilshire said it is concerning that 2% of the programme reported incomes less than the threshold income set by regulation.  The MCA recommends that a price signal be introduced to encourage business to hire Australian workers, providing funds to beef up compliance efforts and provide services to 457 workers in need.

‘While the vast majority of 457 visa holders indicated they were settling into Australia well, the focus needs to be on spouses and dependents. Having a spouse that works makes it more likely that 457 visa holders will stay in Australia and extending support services on a needs basis ensures we capture their skills,’ added Wilshire.

She also said that 457 visa holders contribute their skills, pay taxes and help to build the Australian economy.

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