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3 things you didn’t know about the 457 visa changes

21 April 2017

The federal government will abolish the 457 visa, which will be replaced with two new visas. University of Sydney experts explain what the changes will mean for businesses and universities.

1. Employer demand the basis for 457 visas

“The 457 visa scheme used employer demand as the basis for identifying skills shortages,” explains Dr Chris F Wright, an employment relations expert from the University of Sydney Business School.

“My research with Dr Andreea Constantin showed employers who use the 457 visa were more than twice as likely to address skilled job vacancies by recruiting workers from abroad as they are to train their existing employees.”

“The main objective of the 457 visa scheme was to help employers address skilled labour shortages. But a recruitment difficulty is not the same thing as a skills shortage. In this respect, it is questionable whether the 457 visa was effective in meeting its stated objective of addressing skills shortages.

“The Turnbull Government should establish an independent mechanism to verify the existence of genuine skills shortages before employers can employ workers on temporary visas.

“Skilled migration needs to continue as a central policy solution for addressing Australia’s skills needs. The Turnbull Government’s decision to establish a training fund is welcome but there are significant inadequacies with the education and training system that also must be fixed. This requires extensive changes to labour market and skills policies.”

2. The 457 visa reforms threaten research and innovation

“Australia is home to some of the world’s leading universities and researchers,” Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), writes in The Australian.

It’s partly because we have welcomed researchers from all over the world to pursue their careers with us, whether in the life sciences, natural sciences, ¬social sciences, humanities or ¬creative arts.
Professor Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

In the opinion piece published on 20 April, Professor Ivison highlights the need for Australia to maintain its commitment to openness to attract the best and brightest researchers from all over the world.

Since the article was published, the federal government has acknowledged the issues raised by Universities Australia, confirming Australian universities will remain open to the world’s best minds. 

3. The Keating Government implemented a similar scheme

“The abolition of the 457 visa as we know it signals a shift back to the original structure of the visa pathway,” said Dr Dimitria Groutsis, Co-Convenor of the Migrants @ Work Research Group at the University of Sydney Business School.

“The Keating Government’s temporary 457 visa was introduced in the 1990s to expedite the entry of business professionals and highly skilled migrants. Over time the visa was opened up to include a broad suite of ’skilled’ workers, with those on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Skilled Occupation List (SOL) able to gain entry once nominated by an employer seeking to fill a position.

“The opening up of the visa transformed the original structure of a highly skilled entry pathway to a demand driven pathway for areas of shortage in all manner of employment.

"The abolition of the visa and its replacement with the government’s new visa pathway designed specifically for highly skilled workers is not only going back to the original visa structure but is also more similar in principle to the US H-1B visa pathway for the highly skilled, which has since been suspended by President Donald Trump.” 

Katie Booth

Media & PR Adviser (Business School)

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