- Managing Me
- Big Ideas
- Managing People
Gina Rinehart’s recent coup in gaining visas for 1,700 workers to staff a mining project in Western Australia has put skilled migration back on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers.
The question for the leaders of companies facing staff shortages is whether they can they do the same.
They can’t, or at least, not in the same way, according to Fred Molloy, a registered migration agent and recruitment consultant with migration services firm Konnecting.
“The [Enterprise Migration Agreements used by Rinehart] are only for very large projects,” he says. By far the most common scheme employers use to recruit overseas workers remains the 457 visa.
A union backlash didn’t stop Rinehart from being granted the rights to bring in 1,700 migrant workers for her Roy Hill development.
Business leaders and many independent observers have welcomed the deal, highlighting the necessity of such agreements to feed Western Australia’s demand for workers.
While an easing of the labour shortage in mining is likely to loosen the shortages in other parts of the country, many Australian employers are still feeling the squeeze. The engineering profession alone has a documented shortfall of 20,000 employees.
To fill their skills shortages, businesses are increasingly looking overseas, Molloy says. There were 44,345 employer sponsored visas granted in 2010-11.
The rising demand, although strong, isn’t uniform, Molloy says. “There’s much more demand in Western Australia and Queensland, followed probably by South Australia and the Northern Territory. The sectors we’re seeing demand for are engineering, trades, medical workers and various specialist roles.”
Most skilled migration in Australia comes as a result from business demand, either from individual businesses or states, rather than skilled people requesting to move here.
This means businesses facing skills shortages have to take the initiative themselves to source workers overseas, rather than wait for migrants to come to them.
The time taken to recruit and do the paperwork to bring across a worker from overseas is highly variable, taking anywhere from a week to six months, depending on the industry.
There are three main classes of visas business use to sponsor foreign workers. (We’ll add EMA’s to the mix, though they aren’t intended for any but the largest of businesses.)
Temporary Business Sponsorships, aka 457 visas
Regional Sponsored Skilled Migration Scheme (RSMS)
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS)
Enterprise Migration Agreements (EMAs)