Overseas workers who come to Australia on s457 temporary work visas earn, on average, more than $15,000 above the local average, new research reveals.
According to Government data obtained by The Australian, the average wage of an s457 worker in 2006-07 was $71,600, well above the average Australian full-time wage of $55,500.
And the gap is even bigger in sectors that have been hardest hit by the skills shortage such as telecommunications, where s457 workers earn $25,000 more on average, and finance and insurance, where they are $20,000 ahead.
Even in lower wage areas such as hospitality and retail, s457 workers did significantly better than their local colleagues, earning wages 7% and 32% higher respectively.
Although the findings don’t come as a surprise – s457 are generally highly skilled, and are legally required to be paid well above the minimum wage – they provide support for the recruitment industry’s argument that temporary workers make valuable contributions to the economy and are not exploited.
They do not reveal the distribution of wages across sectors, however, leaving open the possibility that certain very high paid temporary staff disguise the existence of a less well-off class of workers.