Published on May 28th, 2011 | by john.weir0
Trade workers emigrating to Australia up by 70%
The 457 visa program is on track to record its strongest year since the global financial crisis, with an increase in demand for trade workers.
In April 2011, there were 4200 applications for primary 457 visas, pushing the total to 42 872 for the year so far, already about 4000 higher than the total number for 2009-10. Primary visa grants are 37 per cent higher than at the same time last year.
A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) said this result shows the 457 visa program is providing an important avenue for employers, particularly in the construction and mining sectors, to hire workers when local labour is not available.
â€œThe increase can be attributed to an improved economic environment and increasing employer demand for overseas workers to fill skills vacancies,â€ the spokesman said. â€œThere have also been upward monthly trends in application rates, strong year-on-year growth in the grant rate, strong jobs growth as shown by the ANZ Job Index and continued low unemployment.â€
The program is a temporary solution when local skilled labour is in short supply, allowing employers to hire overseas workers for up to four years.
â€œThe number of trade workers and technicians coming to Australia under the 457 program is up about 70 per cent compared with the same period last year,â€ the spokesman said.
â€œIn this program year to April, there were 4731 visas approved for construction workers and 2777 visas approved for mining workers, which represents an increase of 79 per cent and 43 per cent respectively.â€
All trade workers and technicians must demonstrate they are skilled and experienced in their occupation and meet English language requirements. The English language requirement was raised in September 2009 and now aligns with the permanent employer sponsored scheme.
Processing times for 457 visas are also 30 per cent lower than five years ago, with a median processing time of 22 calendar days. As part of the Budget, the government announced new funding for a 457 processing centre in Brisbane, which will aim to halve 457 visa processing times.
â€œThe 457 visa program is uncapped, demand-driven and highly responsive to the economic cycle,â€ the spokesman said.
â€œThe programâ€™s ability to respond quickly to emerging skills shortages is demonstrated by the total visa application rates, which track very closely to the ANZ Job Index; when unemployment goes down, demand for 457 visas goes up.
â€œMore than 18 500 organisations currently employ overseas workers, with about 70 per cent of workers being employed in small and medium-sized businesses.â€