“‘They’re not flipping burgers’: Universities cry foul over axing of 457 visas”

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:23 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:23

(c) Michael Koziol smh.com.au

It’s the key question for universities grappling with the Turnbull government’s abolition of 457 visas: can they still bring in the big brains they often need from overseas?

As part of the changes ushered in by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday, applicants will be required to show they have at least two years of work experience in their field to be eligible for a temporary work visa.

But confusion reigns in the higher education sector over whether university qualifications such as a doctorate (PhD) or high-level research will count as work experience.

The powerful Group of Eight universities wrote to Mr Turnbull on Wednesday complaining the new rules could be “extremely damaging” to academic recruitment.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence said he had “huge concerns” about the changes and warned they could have “unintended consequences”.

The research-focused university has more than 300 staff on 457 visas – about 5 per cent of its total – with more in the pipeline.

“They’re really not people flipping burgers,” Dr Spence told Fairfax Media. “If you are building world-class expertise in a cutting-edge area of science, you’re probably going to need to draw from a gene pool larger than 23 million.”

He pointed to Sydney University’s quantum computing unit, led in part by quantum physicist Michael Biercuk, who came to Australia on a 457 visa from the US in 2010.

Professor Biercuk estimated about a fifth of his fellow researchers were on 457s, and were hired straight out of their PhD program without any commercial “work experience”.

“Right now, on a strict interpretation [of the new law], we are not able to hire people who are coming out of their PhDs internationally,” he said. “We really need to sort out this issue.”

Without specialist hires from overseas, the capacity of the much-admired Sydney Nanoscience Hub would be kneecapped, Professor Biercuk said.

“Much of the strategic investment that Australia has made will be kind of wasted. We won’t have the technical staff to drive the work forward,” he said.

Fairfax Media put questions to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Wednesday but did not receive a response by deadline.

Astronomer and physicist Alan Duffy of Melbourne’s Swinburne University, who arrived on a 457 visa eight years ago to work on a flagship astronomical facility in Perth, said he hoped the matter was a bureaucratic oversight.

“We’re all a little alarmed but still hopeful this can be clarified,” he said. “We want the world’s best for this country, and that means it is a global search.”

The Group of Eight was also concerned about the message the move sent to the academic community worldwide.

In his letter to Mr Turnbull, Go8 chairman Peter Hoj said “the mere suggestion of Australia clamping down on academic mobility into Australia would be extremely damaging to academic recruitment in Australia”.

Dr Spence reminded the Prime Minister that recruitment of world-class talent was crucial to the government’s oft-touted innovation agenda.

“At one point [that] was very important to Malcolm Turnbull,” Dr Spence said. “I’d like to believe that it’s still important to Malcolm Turnbull.”

 

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“HR, coders and manufacturing: The occupations most affected by 457 visa changes”

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:18 Written by Australian Immigration Visas Thursday, 20 April 2017 09:18

(c) Catherine Hanrahan abc.net.au/news

The Federal Government’s changes to temporary migration visas would have affected less than 10 per cent of the visas granted in the second half of 2016, official data shows.

The list of occupations eligible for temporary visa status has been cut from 651 to 435 job types.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the move is designed to put Australian workers first, though key industries have expressed fears about the difficulty they may face hiring top talent.

ABC News has crunched the numbers to see how many visas and which occupations are affected

Removed occupations account for less than 10pc of visas

Data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection shows that 24,270 primary 457 visas were granted between June and December 2016.

Of those, 2,083 were granted to workers in the 216 occupations that have now been removed from the visa list.

This represents 8.6 per cent of primary 457 visas.

That means nine out of 10 workers who were granted 457 visas in that timeframe would still be eligible for temporary work status under the new scheme.

Which occupations on the removed list were most commonly used?

Of the 216 occupations removed from the visa list, human resource advisers, production managers in manufacturing and web developers will be most affected, based on the number of 457 visas granted in 2015-16.

The chart below shows the top 10 removed occupations granted visas in 2015-16.

Top 10 number of visas granted for removed occupations

Data are from Australian and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification occupations; number of 457 visas granted in 2015-16

  • Human Resource Adviser
  • Production Manager (Manufacturing)
  • Web Developer
  • Training and Development Professional
  • Sales Representative (Industrial Products)
  • Market Research Analyst
  • ICT Support Technicians nec
  • Ship’s Engineer
  • Retail Buyer
  • Procurement Manager
  • Ship’s Officer
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