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457 visa cap will hit car owners

The potential restriction on 457 visas could affect the industry and hinder its ability to service Australian consumers.
CarsGuide

19 Mar 2013 • 3 min read

You could wait longer to have your car repaired if 457 visas are dropped, a peak motoring industry body says. The Australian Motor Industry Federation (AMIF) says the current critical shortage of mechanics and other auto workers will worsen if 457 visas are capped.

“The need is immediate. The shortage is now,” AMIF boss Richard Dudley told CarsGuide, “The shortage is of skilled automotive professionals is present now and likely to get worse, 457 visas are one of the few avenues available to try and gain the skilled people in the shortest possible timeframe.”

“The Australian automotive industry uses 457 visas as a source of securing expertise in a range of automotive professions experiencing a critical shortage of skilled people including mechanical repair, auto-electricians, body repair, and vehicle painting. “

The AMIF say that these shortages will not just affect regional areas; the effects will be universal and nationwide. Automotive businesses are closing each week, with a lack of staff the most common reason. Due to this diminished skilled worker pool, 457 visas are necessary in maintaining the ability to provide these automotive services.

A report surveying 700 automotive businesses by Auto Skills Australia has uncovered many cases of dealerships closing due to lack of staff, or inability to attract staff. In Brisbane, a dealership invested in facilities and transported workers to and from Central Queensland to service the surrounding communities. The dealer still had to rely on 457 visas to enable operations to exist.

“There are numerous motor dealers along the Queensland coast who have   secured skilled professionals through the 457 visa program to ensure vehicle service and repair services to communities who otherwise may have faced considerable delays or lack of service altogether,” Dudley told CarsGuide.

The 457 Visa Scheme is for skilled workers outside of Australia who have been sponsored and nominated by a business to work in Australia on a temporary basis. Recent commentary into the 457 Visa Scheme suggests that there should be a cap on these visas and that Australians should be at the front of job queues.

“If we could find 19,000 skilled mechanics in the Australian-based workforce, we would employ them, but they simply do not exist,” Dudley said. The AMIF state that over the next five years, there will be a profound change impacting all automotive services due to the impacts of technology changes and globalisation.

Dudley says that the Government have not spoken to the AMIF regarding their concerns to 457 visas. The potential restriction on 457 visas could affect the industry and hinder its ability to service Australian consumers.

“[The government needs to] gain a better understanding of the entire automotive industry and stop ‘dog whistling’ on an issue that has serious implications if capped or made an emotional issue.”