A report compiled by Migration Council Australia: More Than Temporary: Australia’s 457 Visa Program, was released on May 11 2013.
By surveying 3,800 visa holders and 1,600 businesses located all over the country, Migration Council Australia was able to collate some indispensable data that will give migration agents and migration consultants and hopefully the government some valuable perspective on the recently volatile topic of subclass 457 visas.
Despite Australian Labour Party national vice-president Tony Sheldon’s recent allegations, as reported in The Australian, that “it’s actually no exaggeration to say that for some workers, the 457 visa is a form of slavery”, Migration Council Australia’s research has revealed that 457 workers have a high level of job satisfaction.
The Council believes that this indicates skilled migrant workers are “integrating well into the workforce”, rather than being exploited against the standards and ethics of our country, as Mr Sheldon is reported to have said.
However, the report did draw attention to the skilled migrant workers’ spouses and dependents, stating that more of an effort needs to be made to make them feel welcome and settled.
“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,” said Carla Wilshire, chief executive officer of Migration Council Australia, in a May 11 statement.
It’s not just employees on migration visas who are satisfied with the program. Of the employers who responded to the survey, 85 per cent said they, too, felt that the 457 visa scheme was a beneficial enterprise.
Ms Wilshire stated that this program is a vitally important part of keeping Australia viable in a competitive and increasingly global market. “Four out of five multinational companies are using 457 visa holders to train and develop Australian workers,” she said.
This demonstrates that the 457 visa program is mutually beneficial, providing migrant workers with the opportunity to put their skills to good use where they are sorely needed, and giving Australians the chance to learn from these migrant workers and gain global industry perspective.
Hiring skilled migrant workers, revealed Ms Wilshire, is not simply about filling skill shortages; it’s about addressing skill deficits, which is an important part of workplace development.
“The survey results reinforce that skills transfer and knowledge from 457 visa holders play an important role in building Australia’s human capital,” she said.
The report also demonstrated that over 70 per cent of 457 visa holders are intending to become permanent residents at some point in the future.
For a change some good news about the 457 visa program! It is a great program which allows short term skill shortages to be addressed and the system builds in salary and condition fairness, so there is no underpayment or ‘importing cheap labour’. The cost and the ability of those 457 visa holders to move around the market place ( a labour government initiative to put 457 visa holders on the same footing as local workers, ignoring the cost and effort required to bring in 457 visa holders) , are such that it is still very much in the interest of Australian employers to source local workers.
If the labour government allocated more funds for compliance to catch out errant employers who will always seek to avoid any reasonable 457 program rules in the same way they try and avoid Fair Work and ATO obligations, then there would be no need for increasingly irrelevant unions to bang drums and demonise those employers who use the system for its real purpose.