Settlement Guide

Settlement Guide: 457 visas in demand

Source: AAP

Do you want to work in Australia? The 457 temporary visa program is the main path for foreign workers into Australia. Each year, the federal government receives over 50 thousand 457 visa applications. So, what are the most in-demand jobs? And what new roles will the digital economy bring?

Australia needs more nurses. The 2014 National Health Workforce Data Set shows, nearly 40 per cent of all registered nurses currently aged over fifty will reach retirement in the foreseeable future. The aged care sector will also require more staff.

 Australia's low dollar and oil prices are helping the domestic and inbound tourism sectors to grow.

The 2010 Inter-generational Report predicts, by mid-century nearly a quarter of all Australians will be aged over 65. Electricians and secondary school teachers are the next most wanted skilled migrants. Tourism is also seeking foreign workers. Australia's low dollar and oil prices are helping the domestic and inbound tourism sectors to grow. Shannon Semenikow is the director of Education and Migration Services Australia with offices in Queensland and Victoria. He says tourism and hospitality industries are now seeking more foreign workers to fill the gaps.

"Cook is the number one position that has been sponsored for. On the 457, generally there is about 103,000 people. Currently, I think until September 2015, just under 7000 people that were cooks on that."
 
This demand is more obvious in regional areas.

 

The demand for food and accommodation sector workers from overseas isn't always a positive.


"And what they tend to have a lot of is transient staff who'll be on working holiday visas. Even Australians that sort of traveling and working in roles for a while. But then they really struggle to maintain that continuity. And some of the organisations we work with are sort of five star resorts and they're really trying to attract and maintain good staff, so that's where I guess using the 457 visa that kind of helps them to have that continuity through the role and experience."
 
Monash University's skilled migration specialist Dr Chandra Shah says, the demand for food and accommodation sector workers from overseas isn't always a positive. Dr Shah says 457 visa holders in these industries are more likely to be exploited than their local counterparts.

 

Many temporary skilled migrants in non-professional jobs put up with poor working conditions for personal reasons.

 
"There have been a lot of interest groups particularly in the accommodation and food services which have lobbied the government to open up the system to all workers. And the reason they want to do that is because they want cheap labour. Labour, which is reluctant to complain about their wages and conditions."
 
Dr Shah says many temporary skilled migrants in non-professional jobs put up with poor working conditions for personal reasons.

 

50% of them come on 457 because they want to eventually get permanent residency.


"50% of them come on 457 because they want to eventually get permanent residency. They can keep quiet and work for three to four years under very poor conditions and be exploited in the hope they get their permanent residency."
 
He says this is not so much the case for temporary skilled migrants in professional roles.

"There may be a little bit more protection there in health care and aged care sector because there are government regulations which require certain quality standards and things and therefore there will be a bit more scrutiny about the skills of the workers, how they work and what they're paid for and all those sorts of things, but agriculture, forestry, accommodation and food services, there's going to be less scrutiny there, including construction."

The Department of Employment predicts professionals, as well as community and personal service workers will form the two biggest employment groups.

 
Fair Work Australia monitors employers of 457 visa holders to ensure they are complying with the sponsorship obligations and ensuring workers are being paid market salary rates. The Department of Employment predicts professionals, as well as community and personal service workers will form the two biggest employment groups, filling up half of the total growth in the labour market by the end of 2019.

Technicians and trades workers will also be in high demand.

Technicians and trades workers will also be in high demand. An Australian Bureau of Statistics 2010 survey shows over 20 per cent of all tradespeople are aged over 55. With many reaching retirement age, the industry will need close to 160 thousand workers in the next four years.

The information, communications and technology, or ICT industry, is set to become another major player in the job market.

 

The most sought-after tradespeople are metal-fitters, machinists, carpenters, joiners, motor mechanics, structural steel and welding workers. The information, communications and technology, or ICT industry, is set to become another major player in the job market. Australia's Digital Pulse report by Deloitte Access Economics shows 10 to 15 per cent of all 457 visas are granted to ICT professionals each year. Deloitte Access Economics' digital economy expert John O'Mahony says, by 2020 the industry will need an additional 100 thousand workers.

Due to a significant drop of graduates with ICT qualifications in recent years, more than 10 thousand temporary skilled workers on 457 visas have been employed annually to meet the demand.


"The digital economy is changing all of Australia. It's linked to the growth in new digital businesses, in cloud computing, in data centres. But, we're also seeing digital technology change a lot of existing businesses whether they're in retail or in agriculture or in other parts of the economy so that's why we're forecasting that the value of digital technology to the Australian economy will grow from around 79 billion dollars now to 140 billion dollars by the end of this decade and of course that's creating a lot of new opportunities for the jobs in Australia."

Due to a significant drop of graduates with ICT qualifications in recent years, more than 10 thousand temporary skilled workers on 457 visas have been employed annually to meet the demand.

The highest one on the list is software programmers and that is of course the people with the technical skills and the coding skills to be able to come up with ICT solutions.

 
"We already have around 600,000 workers in the ICT industry - that's information and communications technologies in those occupations and we forecast it's going to grow to 700,000 by the end of this decade but if you turn to universities and ask them how many graduates are coming out with the necessary ICT skills, there's not enough. We're now just graduating 5000 new students each year."
 
The top ICT roles on offer for foreign professionals are ICT business and systems analysts, software and application programmers and computer network professionals.

"The highest one on the list is software programmers and that is of course the people with the technical skills and the coding skills to be able to come up with ICT solutions. The second area where I think there will be a lot of growth is in business analysts. They're the occupation for people who are able to translate the ICT solutions and make them work in a business or an organisational context."

Digital solutions will be important as businesses in their own right.

 
John O'Mahony says the digital transformation across all sectors of the economy will make ICT jobs a safer choice.

"So if you think of the healthcare industry, how important is e-health? Say, something like electronic medication management is going to be into the future for the healthcare sector. Or, if you mention something like construction and how new digital drone technology and prefabrication technology is going to affect construction that will be digitally enabled? So digital solutions will be important as businesses in their own right but they're going to be filling a lot of those other sectors as well."


For more information on the jobs in demand in Australia, visit the skilled occupations list