Professionals Australia says Australian engineering jobs are at risk as a result of the China – Australia Free Trade Agreement. CHAFTA will allow the importation of engineers without local labour market testing.
Representing working engineers, Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton, says this comes at a critical juncture for the local industry.
“We’ve seen nearly every engineering discipline come off the skills shortage list in recent years. The auto industry is closing. The future of local ship and submarine building is uncertain and job vacancies for engineers are in freefall.
“Now, we learn that the Federal Government is signed up to a deal which could jeopardise the job prospects of thousands of Australian engineers. Each year, China churns out enough engineering graduates to swamp the total number of engineers in Australia.”
Professionals Australia’s concerns were confirmed this week following an exchange at the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties between a committee member and Mr David Wilden, First Assistant Secretary, Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Mr KELVIN THOMSON: Mr Wilden…Are Chinese tradespersons at category 3, engineers and nurses currently subject to labour market testing conditions and requirements?
Mr Wilden: If they were to come in currently and they were not exempt, they would be required to be subjected to labour market testing—that is, the sponsors would be.
Mr KELVIN THOMSON: And if the China FTA comes into force, will they be subject to those labour market testing conditions then?
Mr Wilden: No, they would be exempted.
Mr Walton also identified that the local engineering industry was yet to seize the opportunity presented by a lower Australian dollar and transition to an export industry, and that until it did “CHAFTA would simply mean more engineering services in, no more out”.
The commitment to remove labour market testing extends to the category of ‘contractual service suppliers’ which include all workers with trade, technical and professional skills as well as intra-corporate transferees.
“The new Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, needs to act immediately to build a vibrant local innovation sector so that we can keep high-wage, high skill jobs in Australia or we will see thousands of Australian engineers depart our shores”.
Media contact: Erik Locke 0408 880 319