A business owner has opened up with My Business about her experience of the confusion and fear the sudden cancellation of 457 visas has wreaked on SMEs.
Speaking on the My Business Podcast shortly after the announcement was made by the federal government, Jules Peacocke – founder of exclusive Sydney salon Lily Jackson Hair & Makeup – says she is not sure how her business, or her industry, will be able to adapt to the change once 457s are fully phased out in 2018.
“We need the foreign workers, 150 per cent, because there [are] very few qualified Australian hairdressers. We have sponsored 457 staff for 15 years,” she explains.
“We’ve just had our application renewed by immigration until 2020. I don’t know what that means. I’ve had no correspondence from immigration at all on what that means for us. In fact, we’ve been talking to some stylists overseas, who are meant to be coming in on this visa.
“This announcement was made … and [we] have no more information.”
Jules says that like any industry, hers is one which benefits greatly from the talents, insights and experiences that foreign workers can impart on their local counterparts, especially those in the early stages of their careers.
“We need foreign workers. We need stylists and hairdressers coming in from other capital cities around the world, bringing their knowledge and their information to train Australian workers, Australian hairdressers, to help our industry become more exciting and attract young people in,” says Jules.
“It’s an industry that does travel. We travel around the world. Australian and New Zealand hairdressers are so in demand in cities like New York and London. You’re snapped up because of your skills. Those hairdressers have something to offer Australia as well. I think we should be bringing them in.
According to Jules, hairdressing is also an industry in which there is a recognised skills shortage, and government measures to address the supply imbalance to date have largely been punitive and counterproductive.
“The statistic that I was given by NSW industry is the completion average for apprentices in New South Wales is 40 per cent in hairdressing,” she says.
“I think it’s 60 per cent completion across all industr[ies]. Hairdressing has been earmarked by the New South Wales government as a major problem.
“[But] they’re looking at punitive ways to ensure that their KPI is raised and met. One of those ways that was introduced to me is, if you don’t get completion rates up, you can’t have apprentices. For me, that’s a pretty naïve look at what an industry needs in terms of support to get their apprentices completed.”
Do you have more to say on 457 visas and foreign temporary workers? Has your business been impacted by the change? Have you heard from the authorities about the changes in relation to your particular circumstances? Let us know below!
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.