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The Migration Council Australia released a landmark report on the 457 visa program that analyses a survey of 3,800 visa holders and 1,600 businesses. The report, ‘More Than Temporary: Australia’s 457 visa program’ reveals that 457 workers have a high level of job satisfaction, demonstrating that they are integrating well into the Australian workforce.
Ms Carla Wilshire, CEO of the Migration Council Australia, said the findings show that the 457 visa program is critical in keeping Australia competitive in an era when industry is global and 98% of innovation happens outside of Australia.
Ms Wilshire said: “Four out of five multinational companies are using 457 visa holders to train and develop Australian workers. The survey results reinforce that skills transfer and knowledge from 457 visa holders play an important role in building Australia’s human capital.”
She added: “Temporary migration does not just fill skills shortages, it addresses skills deficits and plays a central part in workplace development at the enterprise level. The report also confirms that 85% of employers are satisfied with the scheme and that most employers are using the program to fill skills shortages.”
The report did identify some compliance issues pointing to the need to strengthen the monitoring framework.
Ms Wilshire conceded: “It is concerning that 2% of the program reported incomes less than the threshold income set by regulation.”
The report recommends that a price signal be introduced to encourage business to hire Australian workers, providing funds to beef up compliance efforts and provide services to 457 workers in need.
“While the vast majority of 457 visa holders indicated they were settling into Australia well, the focus needs to be on spouses and dependents. Having a spouse that works makes it more likely that 457 visa holders will stay in Australia and extending support services on a needs-basis ensures we capture their skills,” Ms Wilshire advised.
The report details that over 70% of 457 visa holders intend to become permanent residents in the future.
Ms Wilshire said this speaks to the recent transformation in Australian immigration policy. “We are seeing a sustained move towards a ‘two-step’ migration program where demand from employers drives immigration,” she concluded.