In light of new figures, the Australian government has once again defended its decision to attempt to curb the number of temporary 457 visas being awarded to foreign workers, and revealed that more needs to be done to stop employers abusing the system. Latest monthly figures show a continuing spike in the 457 visa subclass, with 21.5% more primary visa holders present in Australia in February 2013 compared to February 2012, while applications for the temporary skilled work visas also rose by 9.5% in February compared with the month before. “The 457 visa programme is a valuable visa when used as it is intended – to fill temporary skills shortages in some sectors and regions,” said Australia’s Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Brendan O'Connor. “The Gillard Government is concerned that some unscrupulous employers are seeking to use 457 visas to avoid training local workers – citizens and permanent residents. “This is not a debate about the number of overseas workers in Australia – this is a debate about getting the right mix so that we are not leaving locals behind when it comes to jobs and training,” he added. The government argued that while supporters of the 457 visa programme say that the visas allows overseas workers to fill severe skilled gaps in essential sectors like the mining industry, the figures reveal that an increasing number of visas are being allocated to workers in states where mining is not prevalent. The biggest annual growth in states where people using this visa are settling were experienced in Tasmania (34%), South Australia (12.4%) and New South Wales (7.6%). Cooks are now the number one ranked occupation for primary visa grants, making up 4.1 per cent of total 457 visas granted since July 2012 – up from just 2 per cent over the same period a year earlier. Moreover, average salaries for accommodation and food services 457 visa holders are the lowest of all the 457 categories at AUS$55,000 a year – more than AUS$14,000 a year below the next lowest paid workers. “The government has always said that the 457 is legitimately needed,” Minister O'Connor continued. “But when we see spikes in particular sectors that are out of step with growth in those industries, we must take action to tighten any loopholes that exist. '”That's why we have taken action to remove incentives for employers to misuse the programme, and are giving Fair Work inspectors the powers to act on 457 abuses.” Source: http://www.relocatemagazine.com/immigration-a-visas/immigration-a-visa-news-main/7617-australia-immigration-457-visa-numbers-still-rising
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