The 457 visa program, which allows foreign skilled workers to live and work in Australia temporarily, has been a success.
12 February 2013
Australian 457 visa program hailed as success
The chairman of the Ministerial Council on Skilled Migration has claimed that government policies concerning the 457 visa program for temporary skilled workers have been beneficial to the country's economy.
Writing in the The Australian newspaper, Michael Easson said despite kinks in the program - such as the much maligned Enterprise Migration Agreements and unions' opposition to foreign workers - the 457 visa has been vital to helping fill skills gaps across the country.
"Western Australia, which has low unemployment and high labour force growth, is the second largest user of the 457 program, which attests to the program's responsiveness to local economic conditions," wrote Mr Easson.
"Employer-sponsored migration is a demand-driven model that places skilled migrants directly in the jobs they need and where locals cannot be found."
Recent statistics released by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship showed that 457 visa applications had begun to decrease but estimates from the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations predict that over 130,000 jobs will be created in the next five years in construction alone.
Unions such as the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) have argued that the 457 visa program prioritises foreign skills over Australian workers. However, Mr Easson says that, while foreign workers should never be used to substitute for trained Australians, foreign workers are vital to economic growth.
"Skilled migrants fill shortages in the Australian labour market that help our economy grow. They are younger, likelier to be in work and better educated than the average Australian and thus boost participation, productivity and population."
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.