​AusIMM calls for mining to be excluded from 457 visa program

In the wake of a swathe of recommendations to loosen existing regulations for the 457 visa program, AusIMM has called for mining professional positions to not come under the program.

Yesterday minister for immigration Scott Morrison has flagged changes to the current 457 visa program which will loosen the existing labour importation rules, following a new report.

The new report, known as Robust New Foundations outlined what it terms improvements to the current program.

The review looked into the levels of non-compliance, the current framework and whether existing requirements balanced against the needs of business, the viability of deregulation, and the appropriateness of the current compliance and sanctions.

The independent review into the program has recommended 22 changes to the program.

“The report identified 22 recommendations that strive to achieve a balance between encouraging flexibility and productivity with strengthening the integrity of the 457 programme and ensuring that overseas workers do not displace Australians,” according to senator Michaelia Cash.

Following the release of the report the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy called on the government to make changes to the ‘skilled occupations list’, excluding mining professionals as the industry faces double digit unemployment.

In its annual Professional Employment Survey, carried out across its 14 000 members, AusIMM found that the unemployment rate amongst Australian minerals professionals sits at around 12.2 per cent, double that of the national average of 6.1 per cent in July this year.

With exploration continuing to slide, and dropping to seven year lows, it is no surprise that geology professionals have been the hardest hit sector, with massive flow-on effects.

The AusIMM report stated that more "minerals professionals commonly report strong pressures to work more hours for the same pay (17.5 per cent); to accept lower pay or conditions for the same job (16.6 per cent); and to accept reduced working hours (8.4 per cent).

"The impacts of cost-cutting in the minerals sector have been particularly broad, deep and sustained; there are minerals professional with many years' experience who are struggling to find work," AusIMM president Glenn Sharrock said.

Sharrock stated that "sustained levels of unemployment are being felt across all minerals professional disciplines and all Australian states and territories".

The situation is even more negative for graduates, with slightly less than half of AusIMM's student members confident they will find work in the industry when they graduate.

Despite this the Government’s Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List 2014 still allows businesses to use the 457 visa program to recruit foreign workers such as geologist; metallurgists; mining engineers; chemical engineers; materials engineers; mine deputies; geophysicists; and geotechnical engineers.

“These occupations should be removed from the 457 visa scheme immediately,” AusIMM CEO Michael Catchpole added.

“The government must act now; we have clear evidence of high unemployment across occupations that remain on the government’s 457 visa list,” Catchpole said.

“These professions cannot remain on the lost while highly skilled Australians are unemployed.”

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