The Australian Federal government has recently announced that from the 1st of July 2017, it will be implementing changes to the General Skilled Migration (GSM) programme. The General Skilled Migration programme is a government initiative aimed at attracting skilled workers from overseas, to fill the skill shortages across various industries and fulfill Australia's economic needs.
According to the Australian government's Department of Immigration and Border Protection, in 2014-2015 approximately 68% of all migrants that came to Australia were skilled. Skilled migrants are a significant part of Australia's economic growth, due to their high employment participation and generally high-level of education, and help to further enrich Australia's multicultural society.

One of the most significant changes that will take place, is that the Federal government will be abolishing and replacing the 457 visa with the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme. Previously, the 457 Visa allowed skilled workers to work in an approved occupation and approved business/sponsor for up to 4 years, with the chance to apply for a Permanent Visa after 2 years. 457 Visa holders were allowed to bring any eligible family members, who would have unrestricted work and study rights. Also, 457 visa holders were granted limitless entry into and exit out of Australia.

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa, which will be replacing the 457 Visa, will be more stringent and have a stronger focus on encouraging employers to prioritise Australian workers. However, the TSS Visa will still allow employers to access skilled migrant workers when Australian workers are unavailable. The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme will help to fill 'genuine skill shortages' in the Australian economy and help safeguard Australians from losing out on job opportunities to skilled migrants.

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa will have two streams. A short-term stream of two years and a medium-term stream of four years. Under the two-year stream of the Temporary Skill Shortage Visa, there will be no pathway towards permanent residency.  While, under the four-year stream of the TSS Visa, eligibility for residency will only be available after three years.
The TSS Visa will have a more narrow list of eligible occupations that foreign skilled workers can apply for, with roughly 200 jobs culled.

Under this new visa programme, employers will be required to comply with the following conditions:

  •   Compulsory labour market testing, unless an international obligation applies.

  •   A non-discriminatory workforce test to ensure employers are not actively discriminating against Australian workers and prioritising foreign labour.

  •   A requirement to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund. This is a fund dedicated to assisting Australia's training system. This involves financial support for apprenticeships and traineeships, pre-apprenticeships and higher level apprenticeships, as well as high demand occupations with future growth potential.

  •   Adherence to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) is the minimum amount that a skilled migrant worker can be paid. The purpose of this threshold is to ensure that skilled migrant workers are paid at an acceptable market rate for their work, and prevent Australians from being undercut by cheaper migrant labour. The threshold currently stands at $53,900.

Tighter Eligibility Requirements

The Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa, will have more rigid eligibility conditions for foreign skilled workers than its predecessor, the 457 Visa.

Some changes to the eligibility requirements for foreign skilled workers include:

  •   Stricter English language requirements
    -   Being under the age of 45 years old, at the time of the application
    -   Having a minimum of two years work experience in the relevant occupation
    -   Compulsory provision of penal clearance certificates

For more information about TSS Visa eligibility changes, click here.

Amendments To The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) & Skilled Occupations List (SOL)

The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) has been renamed to the Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL), and the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) has been renamed to the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL).
These lists outline the eligible occupations that foreign workers can apply for to acquire a Temporary Skill Shortage Visa and gain entry into Australia.

The Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL), which outlines the eligible jobs for the two-year stream, and the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), which is a list of the skilled jobs available for the medium-term stream (four years), have been reduced from 651 to 435 occupations. Additionally, 24 of these jobs have been restricted to regional areas of Australia. This has been done by the government, in an effort to ensure that only skilled migrants that will genuinely help bridge various skill gaps in Australia, will be granted a visa.

For a full list of the jobs that have been removed from the STSOL and the MLTSSL, click here.

For a combined list of the eligible skilled occupations, click here.

For Australians, the Turnbull government's abolition of the 457 Visa and the introduction of the TSS Visa to replace it, will give local job seekers a fighting chance, as the amendments will encourage employers to source workers from the the domestic labour market first. Skilled migration to Australia on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme will be more focused on addressing genuine skill deficits.
Also, even though there may be a more rigid eligibility criteria for skilled migrant workers wishing to enter Australia on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme, once the Visa has been granted, there are stipulations to ensure that they will receive the same rate of pay that an Australian worker would receive. This will help prevent skilled migrant workers from being exploited by employers and ensure that they receive the appropriate remuneration for the work they produce. This condition will also provide a more level-playing field for Australians, as they won't be edged out of a job opportunity merely based on cost.

Are you an employer looking for quality, pre-vetted workers to lend a helping hand? Or are you a worker looking for a flexible job opportunity? Contact us at Workfast on our website, or call 1300 824 403.