Industries being locked out of the working visa scheme face an uncertain future as the lack of plans to address skills shortages causes nerves to fray.
Many business owners are furious that the government’s phased replacement of 457 visas with much stricter working visas will leave them unable to source skilled workers, given a lack of suitably skilled an qualified professionals locally.
“This is so dumb by the government. Employing a 457 staffer was already more expensive and full of red tape than employing a local, unless you broke the rules,” one My Business reader said.
“This country has full employment in most areas – at the margin are people you employ with great caution – so you pay a bit more for somebody with more chance of suitable skills and a work ethic. Australia needs to import labour because local supply is inadequate!”
For Andy Young of Boat Syndication Australia (BSA), an already chronic shortage of tradespeople in Australia looks like it will become substantially worse.
“The hardest thing to try and grow my company is getting the right staff,” he told My Business.
“The industry is basically at a point at the moment where we need tradespeople massively, there is such a shortage.
“I’ll give you an example – if I want anyone to fix seats in a boat, just to fix the vinyl, I have to wait up to three months now because there are only a few trimmers in Sydney that can actually do it. There is such a demand for it, but there are no trimmers that are coming through.”
According to Mr Young, the 457 visa scheme provided some relief – and in the process allowed him to grow his business and in turn contribute more tax dollars to the economy. However, the scheme’s axing has slammed the brakes on this growth.
“Now they have … changed the 457 visa, so now we are basically back to stage one again. I had a trimmer lined up to come over and I had a mechanic and engineer, and I can’t get those guys in at the moment,” he said.
“[And] I’ve been advertising for boat skippers and detailers for over two years now.”
It follows other concerns about the abrupt removal of 457s and its impact on high-growth businesses, where rapid change has seen new roles created that did not exist even just a few years ago.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.