The federal government is revamping the 457 visa scheme to make it easier for employers to import skilled workers.
In a speech to the National Press Club today, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison will reveal plans to relax the scheme’s English language requirement and change pay rate restrictions, according to Fairfax.
“Skilled workers on sponsored programs are not a substitute for Australian jobs but they are an integral part of the machinery that creates Australian jobs,” Morrison will say.
He will say it is time to restore economic sense following changes made to the scheme by the previous Labor government.
The Labor government toughened up 457 visa scheme requirements in order to stop rorting, with claims there were over 10,000 breaches of the scheme.
But Fairfax reports the government will introduce further measures to prevent rorts alongside loosening some of the 457 scheme’s requirements.
The government will soften the English language test so it allows an average mark rather than the current requirement for a minimum level of competence in each test area of reading, writing, comprehending and speaking English.
It will also lower the income threshold at which foreign workers are required to be paid the same rate as Australians in the job from $240,000 to $180,000.
SmartCompany contacted Morrison but did not receive a response prior to publication.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told SmartCompany the proposed changes would benefit SMEs.
“If it’s difficult for big business then it’s much more difficult for small business; if they are going to make it easier we support it, particularly for hospitality, construction and accounting businesses need skills and assets to survive,” Strong says.
“At the moment it’s not so much the toughness of the scheme, it is just complicated, it is the red tape you have to go through.”