Australian resource jobs ‘at risk’ over skilled migration changes

A warning that “impulsive changes” to skilled migration policy will cost Australian jobs and drive up energy prices has been fired by the resources employer group AMMA.

Australia’s mining industry has already thrown support behind the federal government’s plan to replace the 457 Visa programme with a new temporary worker immigration scheme.

However, AMMA chief executive Steve Knott has argued the changes – which are due to come into effect from July – will see the loss of specialists roles not trained for in Australia.

“These changes to skilled migration have been painted as a saviour for Australian jobs,” said Steve Knott, AMMA chief executive. “However, in reality these changes are likely to do the opposite – it will hold Australians back.

“The reality is that some specific technologies crucial to projects have not been used in Australia before or for long enough for Australians to have developed the skills and experience to do the job.

“It’s like saying that a specialist surgeon cannot be brought into Australia to operate because they are not Australian, and that there should be an Australian who can already do the work.”

It comes after the mining and business community claimed the effects of replacing the 457 Visa programme, which was once a prominent method for recruitment of skills required in Australia’s mining industry, will be minimal.

“It stops the ability of Australians to get access to experience that will further their careers,” Knott said. “It also stops the development of industry, inevitably holding Australia back as a country.”

Applications for 457 visas in Australia’s resources industry have fallen substantially over the past five years, dropping from 6,630 in 2011-12 to 230 in 2016-17, according to Department of Immigration figures.

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