Australia proposes easing skills crisis through migration

25 March 2008

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Under plans being proposed to Australia's 457 visa scheme, state governments and businesses would be able to fast-track temporary foreign workers for jobs in various sectors such as mining and health care.

The 457 visa scheme is working well, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans, despite Labor's claim that unscrupulous employers are using the scheme to undercut local wages. However, the 457 scheme is criticized for taking too long to get workers processed through the system.

The proposed changes would allow companies with clean records in hiring legal workers to skip many of the bureaucratic hassles involved with the immigration process.

Meanwhile, the government has recently announced an expansion of its skilled migration program by 6,000 places to 108,500 for the 2007-08 year. Australia is also expanding its Working Holiday agreements with other countries, which allow young people to work in Australia temporarily.

Australia is one of the most aggressive nations in luring skilled migrants from overseas. Its General Skilled Migration program allows foreign workers to come to the country, even without a job offer, if they hold experience and/or qualifications in a list of skilled occupations.