Workers on temporary 457 visas: Implications for future training and skilling of Australians
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Business / Centre for Innovative Practice
This paper presents some of the findings of a 2012 study that investigated the costs and benefits of employing workers on temporary 457 visas in the Western Australian (WA) resources sector in terms of the implications for training and skilling Australians. Employers in resource companies in WA have indicated that they are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers to support strong project growth. There is a limited pool of Australian labour with the required skills who are willing to relocate, there are reducing numbers of workers taking up apprenticeships and traineeships, and there is a lack of industry experience in new graduates who are not ‘work ready’. As a response to these of labour supply pressures, there are unprecedented levels of employing skilled workers on temporary 457 visas by WA resource companies. But at what cost to the future skills pool of Australian workers? Currently the Australian labour market has a participation rate of just over 65% with 11.5m workers (ABS 2012) training in skill development and skill acquisition which is significantly short of the 69% target set by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA) to meet future demands. Furthermore, since September 2010 there has been a steady decline in apprenticeship and traineeship completions (NCVER 2012). This paper discusses the issues of employing workers on 457 visas and the impact that such a strategy may have for training and for Australian skills pool of the future.