Federal Government urged to provide more detail on 457s
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) is urging the Federal Government to provide detail quickly and efficiently so that businesses, particularly those in regional Queensland, can plan their workforce and be certain that they have the access to the skilled workers they need.
More than 5300 primary 457 visas were granted for Queensland in the 2015-16 financial year.
CCIQ General Manager of Advocacy Kate Whittle said 457 skilled migration workers had been a fundamental contributor to the Queensland economy and job growth.
Ms Whittle said there were currently 2.4 million employees in Queensland, with primary 457 visa holders making up less than 1.5 per cent of that number.
“The 457 program has been a great benefactor for small businesses struggling to fill skills gaps, however the program did have its issues,” she said.
“A reimagining of the visa class, reworking the policy and program will hopefully have a positive impact on the Queensland economy.
“It is important the Government works with all stakeholders to achieve a program that will assist employers filling skill shortages while addressing the concerns of the current 457 program.”
Ms Whittle said Australians and Queenslanders should be able to access employment opportunities, especially in remote areas.
CCIQ supports any program which helps fill those opportunities with appropriately skilled workers when local hire is not an option, enabling businesses to grow.
“Migration currently contributes about $2 billion to the Australian economy. Without doubt, Queensland and the nation as a whole, need skilled migration,” she said.
“At this stage, there is not enough information from the government. We look forward to reviewing further details of the proposed policy reform regarding the new temporary visa so we can let the business community know exactly what is involved.”
Ms Whittle said a boost to Australia’s education and training system was required to guarantee the success of the new policy.
“If we are serious about filling the labour shortage and skills gaps, particularly in our regional areas, the local workforce need to be able to access quality education and training to meet the demands of businesses,” she said.
“Businesses have indicated their preference to hire locally, and their willingness to give younger people a job, but are finding it difficult to recruit someone with the appropriate level of skills.
“With funding for vocational education under the National Partnership Agreement looking extremely uncertain for the next financial year, we’ll be looking heavily at what will lie in the Federal Budget to support more, and quality, training.”