Labour market testing – a thing of the past?
Australian businesses are against labour market testing by employers who want to employ skilled labour from overseas jobs while trade unions believe it will just add an unwelcome level of red tape.

The issue of labour market testing has been contentious for years, being brought in and them abolished and then considered again by various governments. Now the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that it should be abolished once and for all.

Foreign-Workers-DuskIn a report to the Productivity Commission, which issued a draft report into migration and is due to publish its final report later this year, the chamber says that misleading campaigns around the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the temporary skilled migration programme have created the impression that overseas skilled migrants take Australian jobs, but this fear is not borne out by the evidence.

It endorses several recommendations and proposes some changes ahead of the final Productivity Commission report. One of the key recommendations is that Governments and stakeholders should do more to explain the benefits of skilled migration or risk having destructive union campaigns undermine public support.

“Skilled migration offers enormous social and economic benefits to Australia, and this has been rightly acknowledged through an evidence based approach by the Productivity Commission,” said Kate Carnell, chief executive officer of the Australian Chamber.

“The Commission recognises that skilled migrants should be a significant element of the total annual quota of permanent migration. We urge the Productivity Commission to go further by recommending that governments and stakeholders work together on a communications strategy to explain the benefits of migration and debunk misconceptions that migrants reduce the number of jobs available for Australians,” Carnell continued. “Migration, both permanent and temporary skilled, brings economic and social dividends. Many skilled workers on 457 temporary work visas become permanent skilled migrants under the employer nomination and independent skilled streams.
“We should herald the contribution of migrant workers for adding skills to the economy and assisting in training Australian workers. Because of their demographics, skilled migrants typically also make long term economic contributions to Australia through their consumption of goods and services and their payment of taxes, outweighing the benefits they receive over their lifetime.”

Jenny Lambert, the Australian Chamber’s director of employment, education and training, called for an updated survey and analysis of the contribution of working holiday makers, given the last detailed survey is more than six years old.

“We also recommend the Federal Government substantially improve its labour market analysis and workforce planning, given the current lack of coordination of effort across multiple portfolios,” said Lambert. “Migration planning needs to be integrated with general workforce development initiatives, including federal, state and territory investment in vocational training and higher education. The draft report gets it wrong in backing labour market testing in the temporary skilled migration program, despite the lack of evidence that this ineffective regulation achieves its aim.

“Requiring employers to test the local labour market before nominating a temporary skilled migrant does not achieve the objective of ensuring that Australian workers are offered the opportunity first. Instead, this is best achieved by analysing the labour market.”

The Business Council of Australia has consistently called for labour market testing to be abolished and the Australian Mines and Metals Association (AMMA) said that resource employers support the abolition of needless and burdensome requirements such as labour market testing.

Courtesy of Australia Forum – Ray Clancy

Administrator’s note:

While this  is a predictable response from industry, it is clear that there are many ways of circumventing all but the most basic of (generally trade) occupations. Any system which does not have the support of its participants is doomed to failure and will only add to the administrative burden on employers wishing to employ skills not currently available within their geographical or industry space. This added impost on the job providing engine is not what the economy needs in these times of uncertainty and global challenge