THOUSANDS more foreign students will get the green light to compete for Australian jobs next week, when the Government expands a work visa scheme.
The Immigration Department is relaxing the work rules for foreign students, even though the Prime Minister is vowing to “put Aussies first” by cracking down on 457 professional visas.
From March 23, all international students will be allowed to stay and work in any job for up to four years after they graduate from an Australian university.
The number of foreigners on “485 skilled graduate” visas soared 74 per cent last year to 38,210 – the same number of unemployed Australians aged 20 to 24, who were searching for their first job in January.
Indian graduates made up 40 per cent of visa holders, immigration data shows, while Chinese accounted for 14 per cent and Nepalese nearly 8 per cent.
The scheme’s expansion has angered unions and prompted warnings from within Ms Gillard’s own party that foreign students will snatch jobs from local graduates.
But Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor said the change was “intended to make Australia a more attractive destination for high quality overseas students”.
“There is no guarantee that sub-class 485 visa holders will find a job at the expense of an Australian student,” his spokeswoman said yesterday. She said the government would monitor the use of the visas and “make changes in response to economic and employment circumstances”.
Under the existing scheme, only foreign graduates with “in-demand” qualifications – such as IT or medicine – can work in Australia for 18 months.
But starting next Saturday, foreign graduates with a bachelor’s degree in any field will be allowed to work here for up to two years.
Master’s degree graduates will be allowed to work for three years, and PhD graduates for four years.
“Applicants … will not be required to nominate an occupation on the SOL (skills shortage list) or undertake a skills assessment,” the department’s website states.
Labor’s Left convenor, Senator Doug Cameron, warned the students could take jobs from Australian graduates. “I’m concerned about any policy that diminishes opportunities for young Australians,” he said. “It’s pretty hard for young people to get their foot on the employment ladder, especially so for some graduates.”
The unemployment rate among the graduate age group has risen by one-third since the global financial crisis, hitting 9.4 per cent in January.
The CFMEU construction union’s national assistant secretary, Dave Noonan, called on the government to limit student work rights to jobs with labour shortages.
“It’s one thing if people are filling highly-skilled graduate jobs where there are shortages, but if you have students who end up in low-paid jobs at convenience stores and driving cabs then that’s not a great outcome for anyone,” he said.
Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said work rights were a selling point for the $15bn international education industry.
The number of foreign students in Australia fell 5 per cent last year to 242,210 in December.
Courtesy of News.com.au
Hello? It is difficult to see that releasing x number of graduates onto the local job market for up to 4 years depending upon the qualification obtained with no restrictions- even to nominate in their own field – is NOT going to impact upon the opportunity for local graduates and other young Australians looking for work.
There is not the same outrage or vitriol from the unions and other labour acolytes? Instead a measured suggestion that there should be some sort of restriction. Is the difference in attitude perhaps because there is deemed to be no prejudice to blue-collar workers? So there are no overseas-trained graduates driving taxis at the moment then? Mmmm…
The government’s hypocrisy is breath-taking.
At least with the 457 visa program there are checks and balances- and are subject to compliance from DIAC -oops sorry the Fair Work Commissioner.