457 Visa scrapped; electrical jobs still available for skilled migration

Wednesday, 19 April, 2017

The federal government has announced it will abolish the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 Visa) in a bid to “put Australians first”. The visa will be replaced with the completely new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa. Implementation of the new visa will begin immediately, with full implementation to be completed by March 2018.

The move is designed to “ensure Australian workers are given the absolute first priority for jobs, while businesses will be able to temporarily access the critical skills they need to grow if skilled Australian workers are not available”.

The TSS visa program will comprise a short-term stream of up to two years and a medium-term stream of up to four years, and will support businesses in addressing genuine skill shortages in their workforce and will contain a number of safeguards which prioritise Australian workers.

The new visa will also include a strengthened training obligation for employers sponsoring foreign skilled workers to provide enhanced training outcomes for Australians in high-need industries and occupations. 

Both streams will include mandatory labour market testing with limited exemptions; a new non-discriminatory workforce test; mandatory criminal history checks; a market salary rate assessment; and a new two-year work experience requirement. Additionally there will be tightened English language requirements for the medium-term stream.

More than 200 jobs have been removed from the occupations list, reducing the number to around 440. Electrical and data tech jobs are still available for skilled migration. To view the combined list of eligible occupations, click here.

The Australian Industry Group welcomed the move. “The 457 Visa system was a highly valued program but misunderstandings of its use and exaggerations of its misuse led it to become a lightning rod for anti-migration sentiments,” said Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox.

“Ending that visa category, adding limits and more clearly defining its successor visas will help draw the focus back to the program’s primary purpose: addressing the pockets of skill shortages that persist in our economy.

“Integrity measures such as requiring visa holders to obtain and declare a Tax File Number combined with increased scrutiny of business sponsors are simple ways to further protect against abuse of the system.

“We will need to monitor the language testing changes to ensure they do not adversely impact on access to skilled workers in the lower skilled categories. Many of our workplaces are multilingual and a working knowledge of English is sufficient in many cases to meet both operational and safety requirements.”

The National Electrical and Communications Association also welcomed the changes. “NECA agrees that more stringent labour market testing is a positive outcome for our industry. Whilst these changes are positive, the government must also ensure that any new system must contain measures to deliver enough flexibility for industry solutions,” said NECA CEO Suresh Manickam.

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