Government meets industry to address changes to 457 Visa scheme

Government meets industry to address changes to 457 Visa scheme

Industry oppose new Labour Agreement

"We looked at our obligations under the Agreement and decided that engaging an overseas workforce would meet a number of goals," he said.

"This included solving our clients' skilled labour shortage problems and at the same time re-investing some of the profit we make on this team to develop our local skills base; and it's working."

Since gaining approval, McCarroll said the company has committed to an Australian Apprenticeship Scheme focused on ICT.

In the last month, 3W has employed six full-time IT apprentices who will receive a combination of on-the-job and formal training over the next two years.

Roundtable participants recognise that industry and government need to work together to develop a cohesive plan to address the skills crisis as the shortage is forecast to top 240,000 skilled workers by 2016.

Australia's shortage is in line with other western countries facing a similar scenario but it also means competing for talent in the global marketplace.

When the changes were first introduced Entity Solutions, which manages the engagement of 2,500 contract professionals, warned Visa holders to tread with caution when signing new Agreements.

The company warned contractors they may be left high and dry by agencies unable to continue to meet the new strict requirements.

New English language requirements were also introduced with stricter controls around past work experience.

According to the Department of Immigration, in the first nine months of 2007, 4290 visas were granted to IT firms which is more than the number issued for the entire previous financial year.

During the previous 12 months a total of 4190 visas were issued.

Despite global competition for skilled immigrants and migrant workers to Australia, the number of engineers migrating here has continued to double for the past two years.

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