As companies struggle to get ahead of the skills shortage, the federal government has increased the number of skilled migrant visas – the 457 visa – available and many businesses are beginning to take advantage of the visa program.
According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, the number of 457 primary visas granted from July to the end November 2011 was 51.6% higher than the same period in 2010.
In Queensland alone, the number of 457 visa workers jumped from 2,890 in 2010, to 4,570 in 2011. Mining industry hotspot Mackay, for example, has desperately needed a stronger flow of tradespeople to man its booming industries, and although migrant workers are a temporary fix to the skills shortage on the surface, many do take up permanent residency in Australia.
Mine servicing company Esco Corporation began a migrant recruitment program seven years ago, and now has HR managers travelling abroad to recruit skilled workers – a process which takes approximately four months.
HR manager at Esco, Heath Bonney, told the Daily Mercury that the company recruits people from the Philippines, South Africa and Zimbabwe and currently employs approximately 20 employees on 457 visas.
Mackay Engineering College co-ordinator Bob Baker said foreign labour is only one part of the answer to the skills shortage. “The best solution is to train our young people and to look ahead and start training now for what we need in the future,” Baker said.
NEW WORKFORCE STATISTICS
Visa holders come primarily from the UK, India, Ireland, the USA and the Philippines
The average salary for a employees on skilled migrant visa’s is $89,900
The sectors receiving the highest number 457 visa holders include:
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Information Media and Telecommunications
- Professional, Scientific and Technical
For more information on the skilled migrant visa program, visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
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