Australia’s 457 Temporary Worker visa program is on the lips of lawmakers again as both the government and the opposition promise to tighten eligibility requirements for businesses and applicants under the scheme.
According to a departmental report issued in June 2016, there are almost 95,000 temporary skilled migrants in Australia under the program.
A total of 55 per cent of applications were granted to "professionals", with 23 per cent granted to technical and trade workers and 17 per cent granted to managers.
We dived a little deeper into that report to see where those workers were coming from, where they were going, what jobs they were doing and how much they were getting paid.
This is what we found:
Workers appear to be well paid, on average
The report details average pay by sector and by location. The total average remuneration (which includes superannuation) for workers under the program is $94,200.
Hospitality workers are paid, on average, $58,800 per year.
While the figures aren’t calculated in the same way, that roughly lines up with the median hospitality wage provided by livesalary.com.au - $55,000 as a base salary and $60,225 in total remuneration.
The highest paid in the 457 program are those in the mining and finance/insurance industries.
Visa holders working in mining are paid an average of $218,200 and those in finance or insurance are paid an average of $128,800.
Doctor Joanna Howe, an expert in 457 visas at the University of Adelaide, told SBS that the high wages weren't surprising.
“The data that you’ve found probably does reflect that the 457 visa program is a skilled migration program," she said. “You’re not going to see the same exploitation that you see in the international student and working holiday visa programs.”
Laws mandate that employers pay 457 visa holders comparable wages to those who are employed locally, and there's a minimum salary of $53,000 if a business wants to use the visa.
There were, however, other problems with the 457 visa system, experts said, including how the relationship of dependency between visa holder and employer can lead to exploitation, and the compilation of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List itself.
ICT, professional, scientific and technical skills are in high demand
India and the UK are the highest suppliers of temporary workers
India, the UK, China and the USA make up more than half of the source countries.
NSW is the most popular destination
New South Wales was, by far, the most popular destination for 457 visa holders, reflecting both the size of the state and the strength of its economy.