Professional Engineers Australia today called for an end to 457 visas for engineers in the wake of the announced closures of automotive manufacturing at Holden and Toyota.
CEO Chris Walton said “Even before the announced closure of Holden and Toyota, we saw a collapse in demand across most of the disciplines that engineers in the automotive sector are qualified in”.
Figures released last year showed a slump in advertised vacancies of more than 40 per cent for “Industrial, Mechanical and Production Engineers” in the last three years. The vast majority of disciplines of engineering are on the Skilled Occupation List, which allows for the use of employer sponsored 457 visas.
“What we are now facing is hundreds more engineers looking for employment as a result of the closure of Holden and Toyota.
“We’ve written to the Immigration Minister about engineering occupations impacted by automotive closures, and remove them from the Skilled Occupation List, at least as a temporary measure, so as to allow for our members to have the best chance at local employment.
“It’s a simple measure that’s a lot cheaper than investing in re-training and welfare.
“It costs nothing and ensures that our highly skilled automotive engineers – who are on an average non-graduate salary of just $90,000 – get the first chance at Australian jobs” Mr Walton said.
Australia produces less than a third of its engineering needs domestically each year, with a heavy reliance on skilled migration and immigration programs on a historical basis to meet demand.
There are some 250,000 qualified engineers in Australia, with roughly 48% of the engineering labour market being born overseas.