An urge to fill job positions in regions that are suffering quick staff turnover, has prompted the federal government to allow employers to seek overseas skilled workers offering 457 visas with salaries up to 10 per cent lower than standard rates and easier language tests.
The new rules were signed off this week, in response to numerous pleas from local authorities and business groups for more flexibility on visas to fill up the gap. Darwin is seen as the main priority and is set to start implementing the new agreement which will be offered later on to other areas, where skilled workers are needed urgently, as staff shortage increase.
A variety of job categories will be covered including childcare workers, disability carers, mechanics, bricklayers, office managers, carpenters, chefs, nurses, and many others.
Small and large businesses, ranging from cafes to construction companies, will be able to offer sponsorship to overseas workers on wages that are up to 10 per cent below usual rates set for 457 visas, under a new migration agreement for areas with high shortages. Meaning employers could pay a foreign worker $48,510 a year rather the current $53,900 minimum, even though there’s a possibility for a lower rate, overseas workers can’t be paid less than Australian award wages.
It was also revealed by The Australian, that concessions on skills and qualifications will be considered if companies prove there’s no one in the region with the required skills and willingness to take the job.
Even though this opens an opportunity for businesses to fill up positions, to arrange a 457 visa under the designated area migration agreements (DAMAs), they will be required to overcome many obstacles first.
Each agreement must be approved by a local authority, and will be limited to a specific area such as Darwin or the Pilbara in WA. Businesses must meet the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) and pay market rates; however they will be able to apply TSMIT for a concession.
The federal government has dismissed the possibility of offering DAMAs agreements in areas with high jobless rates and have imposed strict conditions on the 10 per cent concessions, only making it available were risk associated with hardship can be managed for overseas workers, for example any additional financial burden, among other conditions.
Many fear the impact this will have on the country’s current rising unemployment, with ACTU president Greg Kearney stating, this will “totally undermine” local workers.