A parliamentary inquiry in Australia has found that temporary overseas workers and skilled immigrants are needed to work on large-scale projects.
The Australian Industry Group (AIG) says that projects such as the National Broadband Network (NBN) – a government funded scheme which aims to provide superfast fibre broadband to over 90 per cent of Oz residents by 2021 – will be heavily reliant on temporary 457 visa holders in order to meet the deadline.
“The size and nature of the NBN rollout means it does create some challenges,” AIG New South Wales director Mark Goodsell told a NSW parliamentary inquiry into Australian skill shortages.
However, while Goodsell acknowledged the need for overseas workers, he also made it clear that more needs to be done to train and hire domestic workers. “457 visas and skilled immigration is a really important part of the mix… but it’s not a substitute for the nation having a very good skills strategy,” he said.
“Skilled migration is sort of the balancing item. It’s the tap you can turn on with reliable quality fairly quickly.”
Earlier this year, the Australian government introduced a number of changes to the 457 visa programme, designed to tighten a system which it said was subject to ‘rorts’. However, labour groups in Australia have consistently stated that bringing in skilled temporary workers from overseas is essential to their businesses and have warned the government that closing the door to temporary workers would be a huge mistake.