IT industry balks at 457 visa changes

- Posted in Australia by Visa Bureauon 01 March 2013

Recently appointed Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor made it one of his first points of business last month to set about tightening the 457 visa system to prevent unscrupulous employers from undercutting Australian workers by bringing in cheaper labour from overseas.

Mr O'Connor said legislation would be introduced which place a higher priority on English language skills and grant more power to assessing bodies to investigate visa applications suspected of being unnecessary or falsified.

Some workers' unions have welcomed the changes but recruiters within the IT sector claim the changes not only fail to address the real issue facing the industry - outsourcing - but actually encourage it.

Julie Mills, chief executive of the Australian and New Zealand IT contract and recruitment industry body ITCRA, said the 457 visa system already contained enough restrictions to limit abuse and the changes, rather than encouraging employers to hire Australian workers, would push many to simply outsource the jobs abroad.

"For all recruiters, including ICT, the opportunity to bring in skilled overseas workers requires a rigorous assessment of need visa the 457 labour agreement process - so the changes being discussed, I would suggest are already entrenched in the process for recruiting companies," said Ms Mills.

"A bigger concern is the off shoring of ICT process and administration roles rather than the 457 visa program. The ICT sector and the contract and recruitment companies would always look to the local market across all states.

"But if the right skills are not available in the right place then projects cannot wait until the talent re-skills or graduates - particularly in IT which is often central to any infrastructure and business development at both a government and private enterprise level."

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.