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Which industries will feel the impact of the 457 visa changes?
On April 18, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced big changes to the 457 visa program that allows skilled migrants in many sectors to come to Australia for work. Under the new plan, the 457 visa will be abolished and replaced with two similar visas
The true impact of these changes is a hot topic right now. Some people are welcoming the government’s effort to focus on Australian talent, other employers have voiced concerns due to the high volume of skilled migrants working in their industries
457 visa statistics
The 457 visa, also known as the skilled migration visa, was created to fill skill deficits in the Australian workforce. According to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s most recent quarterly report on the subclass 457 visa, there were just under 96,000 primary 457 visa holders in Australia as of September 30. The vast majority of these workers (57.2%) are classed as professionals, while 16.4% were classed as managers and 21.9% as technicians and trade workers.
The report also highlighted three industries as the top sponsors for 457 visa holders: Information Media and Telecommunications; Professional, Scientific and Technical; and Accommodation and Food Services.
The government has released an updated list of the occupations eligible for the two new skilled migration visas, trimming the list from 651 to 435 occupations.
Taking a look at the specific jobs currently held by skilled migrants, and the occupations that will no longer be eligible, it’s easy to see which industries should begin preparing for a shift in the makeup of their workforce.
The Information Technology sector braces for 457 changes
As the top industry for skilled migrants, the Information Technology sector will definitely need to make some adjustments in the wake of the government’s announcement.
A number of the top occupations for primary 457 applications granted last year fall squarely within this field – including developer programmer, software engineer, and analyst programmer.
Many IT roles were removed from the list of eligible occupations, including web developer and telecommunications technician. While in previous years many companies may have brought overseas workers to fill these positions, they will now have to fill these jobs from Australian workers.
Some employers, like Dean McEvoy, CEO of IT industry group TechSydney, say they’re worried about their ability to find qualified workers without being able to sponsor people from overseas.
In a conversation with News.com.au, McEvoy said that some skills necessary for his business “can’t really be taught, you only get them through experience. So the best way to learn is only by doing, and the only people who have done these jobs, at the moment, are overseas”.
Other professionals, however, see this as an opportunity to train and upskill Australian workers.
“IT organisations need to be discouraged from employing cheaper overseas personnel for these roles and instead encouraged to set up internship relationships with tertiary education institutions where these skills can be taught on the job,” reads a statement from Robert Hudson, President of ITPA.
What the 457 changes mean for Hospitality and Leisure
The abolishment of the 457 visa is also likely to affect the Hospitality and Leisure industry as more than 15,000 of the 457 visa holders currently in Australia work in the Accommodation and Food Services industry with some of the most utilised roles for 457 holders including cook, chef, and restaurant or café manager.
Other positions in this industry including bed and breakfast operator and travel agency manager, have been culled from the list of eligible occupations.
In an industry like hospitality, where much of the work is seasonal, some employers may struggle to find Australian employees who are able to work in temporary settings.
Andreas Rost, who owns a bakery in Sydney, told the Australian Financial Review that he’s concerned he won’t be able to continue operating without the 457 option, as he struggles to find Australians who are able to commit to the tough hours bakery work demands.
The Australian Hotels Association also released a statement voicing their concern with the ruling. AHA National CEO Des Crowe maintains that hospitality employers are indeed employing young Australians, and that less than one per cent of the industry workforce was employed through a 457 visa.
There are still many unknowns surrounding the 457 visa changes and how they will impact Australian businesses. If you need help sourcing talent, reach out to a Michael Page specialist today.