Tamworth migration specialist Mark Lyden has hit out at the sweeping changes to the 457 visa program announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday.
The solicitor said that the changes, which were announced on Tuesday and came into affect on Wednesday, are not going to have the effect that the government is claiming they might, and have instead spread uncertainty and panic.
“The changes seem to be getting strong opinions from everyone, although many of them have a mis-informed point of view,” Mr Lyden said.
“I think these changes are just going to add to business costs and will exacerbate trade level skills shortages.
“The idea that business owners prefer 457 workers is very surprising to me – they are expensive and time consuming for employers.”
PM Turnbull said the changes will “put Australian’s first”, and has split the visa scheme into two categories, effectively one a four year visa for highly skilled and professional workers, and a two year scheme for trade workers.
“It will have zero impact on providing job opportunities for young Australians in the region – we are shooting ourselves in the foot,” Mr Lyden said.
“It is a fact that every year the government is spending less money on apprenticeships and training young Australians to fill the shortages in trade level jobs, and on the other hand are saying we don’t want foreigners here to fill jobs that could be filled by Australians – how does that work, I don’t know.”
The new program will see a lot of those trade skilled workers only offered two year visas instead of the previous four year deals, and would also have no guarantee of residency.
“It is a lot less attractive now for a skilled trade person to relocate to Australia on a very short term, with no guarantees of residency – they are just going to go somewhere else and we will have no one to fill that trade skills shortage.
“If the government had in place a nationwide plan to encourage apprenticeships that were effective we wouldn’t have these trade skills shortages in the first place.”