Australia Skilled Migration

The Impact of Australian Immigration Policies on the Trades Sector

Immigration policies can significantly impact many aspects of the Australian economy, including the trade sector. Various issues are involved, from labour shortages and skills gaps to industry structures and working conditions. This blog will take an in-depth look at the impact that Australian immigration policies have had on the trade sector, exploring how these policies have impacted the industry. We will also look at the Visa Types and their requirements and an overview of qualifying trade occupations in the Australian trade sector.

Key Takeaways

  • Immigration Policy Changes: Recent adjustments to Australian immigration policies, such as increased visa application charges and the new Pacific Engagement Visa, are significantly influencing the trade sector by impacting the availability and cost of skilled labor.
  • Economic Contributions: Skilled migrants have historically had a positive fiscal impact on Australia, contributing significantly to GDP growth and filling crucial gaps in the labor market, especially in the trades sector.
  • Visa Types and Requirements: Understanding various visa types, such as the Skilled Regional State Sponsorship Visa and the new Skills in Demand visa, is essential for both employers and skilled trades workers to navigate the labor market effectively.
  • Skills and Training: Continuous education and skill development are vital to bridging the labor gap in the trade sector, with certifications and apprenticeships playing a crucial role in enhancing workforce competence and efficiency.
  • Workplace Rights and Protections: Immigrants working in the trade sector are entitled to the same fundamental workplace rights and protections as Australian citizens, safeguarded by organizations like the Fair Work Ombudsman and supported by initiatives like the Assurance Protocol.

Immigration Policies Influencing the Trade Sector

Immigration Policies Influencing the Trade Sector

The recent changes in Australian immigration policies are poised to significantly influence the trade sector, marking a substantial shift in the dynamics of skilled labor and industry practices. Key changes include:

Australia Skilled Migration and Visa Changes

The Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) has been raised from $53,900 to $70,000 as of July 1, 2023. This increase indicates that employers must offer a higher salary to sponsor overseas workers, potentially affecting the availability and cost of skilled labor in trades and other sectors​​​.

Visa Application Charge Increases

From July 1, 2023, visa application charges have increased significantly, particularly for business innovation and investment visas. This may affect the inflow of skilled professionals and entrepreneurs, which could indirectly impact blue-collar jobs and the trade sector.

New Visa for Pacific Migrants

The introduction of the Pacific Engagement Visa (PEV), providing 3,000 places for migrants from Pacific countries and Timor Leste, may influence the labor market in the trade sector. This visa allows selected individuals to apply for permanent residence in Australia, potentially bringing in more skilled workers​.

Student and Temporary Graduate Visa Changes

Restrictions on work conditions for student visa holders and changes in the age limit for Temporary Graduate visas might affect the number of international students and graduates available to work in trades and related sectors​​​.

Changes for student visa holders and Temporary Graduate visas such as:

  • Age limits: The starting age for student visa holders in Australia generally begins at 18 years. However, there are provisions for younger students to obtain a student visa.
  • Stricter English language requirements: Applicants must demonstrate competent English by achieving the required scores in recognized English language tests such as IELTS, TOEFL, or PTE.
  • Restrictions in working hours: During the COVID-19 pandemic, international students were allowed to work unlimited hours in any sector. This temporary measure is being phased out, and pre-pandemic work restrictions will be reinstated. Typically, student visa holders are allowed to work up to 40 hours per fortnight during the academic term and unlimited hours during school breaks. This could impact the availability of international students and graduates in trades and related sectors.

Economic Contributions of Migrants

Skilled migrants have historically had a positive fiscal impact on Australia. For example, the 2018-19 skilled permanent migrant cohort is estimated to contribute $20 billion more over their lifetimes than a similar-sized cohort of the Australian population. Additionally, overseas students contribute significantly to the economy, and a proportion become permanent residents, adding to the skilled workforce​.

Impact on GDP and Labor Market

Migrants have been a key driver of Australia’s GDP growth. Between 2000 and 2014, migrants contributed over $330 billion to the national GDP.

New Visa Initiatives

The government is exploring new visa categories like the Talent and Innovation visa to attract foreign nationals who can drive growth in important national sectors, including trade​s and blue-collar jobs.

Permanent Migration Program

The 2023–24 permanent Migration Program in Australia is designed to address workforce shortages and support economic growth by targeting specific visa categories. These categories are adjusted to meet the evolving needs of the labor market. Here is an overview of the key visa categories included in the program:

1. Skill Stream

The Skill Stream is the largest component of the permanent Migration Program, aimed at attracting skilled workers to fill labor shortages in various sectors. It includes several subcategories:

Visa CategoryDescription
Employer-Sponsored VisasThese visas allow Australian employers to sponsor skilled workers for positions they cannot fill locally, including the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS).
Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)This points-tested visa is for skilled workers not sponsored by an employer, state, or territory.
Skilled Nominated Visa (Subclass 190)This points-based visa requires nomination by an Australian state or territory government.
Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) Visa (Subclass 491)This points-tested visa is for skilled workers nominated by a state, territory, or eligible family member to live and work in regional Australia.
Global Talent Visa (Subclass 858)This visa provides a streamlined pathway to permanent residency for exceptionally talented professionals in sectors like technology, science, and medicine.

2. Family Stream

The Family Stream allows Australian citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members to join them in Australia. The focus is on reunifying families, which can also contribute to the workforce indirectly.

  • Partner Visa: This visa allows spouses or de facto partners of Australian citizens, permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand citizens to live in Australia. It includes both temporary and permanent stages.

  • Parent Visa: This visa allows parents of Australian citizens or permanent residents to live in Australia. It includes contributory and non-contributory categories, with the contributory category requiring higher application fees but shorter processing times.
  • Child Visa: This visa allows dependent children of Australian citizens, permanent residents, or eligible New Zealand citizens to live in Australia.

New Migration Strategy Announced in December 2023

In December 2023, Australia introduced the “New Migration Strategy,” which includes significant reforms aimed at enhancing productivity, fairness in the workplace, and stronger community ties through sustainable migration planning. These reforms have several implications for the trades sector, designed to address workforce shortages and improve the integration of skilled tradespeople into the Australian labor market.

  • Enhanced Skill Recognition
  • Targeted Occupation Lists
  • New Visa Categories and Adjustments (such as Trades-Specific Visa Categories and Adjustments to Existing Visas)
  • Workplace Fairness and Protection

Visa Types and Eligibility for Skilled Trades Workers

Visa Types and Eligibility for Skilled Trades Workers

Due to the increase of labour force needed in Australia today, the country has surged to open opportunities overseas and thus behooved the government to adapt to Visa types for those planning to work in Australia from a foreign land.

Skilled Regional State Sponsorship Visa

The Skilled Regional State Sponsorship Visa, also known as subclass 491, is an option for skilled trades workers who wish to live and work in specific regional areas of Australia. It permits holders to live, work, and study in specified regional areas of Australia for 5 years. A significant benefit of this skilled visa is the potential pathway to becoming your permanent visa for residency.

After 3 years of living, working, or studying in a designated regional area and meeting certain conditions (including earning a minimum income of AUD 53,900 (before July 1st, 2023) annually for three years), subclass 491 visa holders may be eligible to apply for the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa. This transition to permanent residency also requires that the applicant or their partner (if included in the application) demonstrate the required income through tax returns.

Qualifications to be Eligible:

  1. Occupation: Applicants must have an occupation listed on the relevant skilled occupation list for regional Australia.
  2. Skills Assessment: A positive skills assessment from an authorized body is required to prove that the applicant has the skills and qualifications to work in their nominated occupation.
  3. Language Proficiency: Proficiency in English is necessary, typically demonstrated through standardized language tests like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc.
  4. Government Nomination or Family Sponsorship: Applicants must be nominated by an Australian state or territory government agency or be sponsored by an eligible family member residing in a designated regional area.
  5. Invitation from the Department of Home Affairs: An Expression of Interest (EOI) must be submitted through SkillSelect. If the EOI is successful, the applicant will receive an invitation to apply for the visa.

Application Process:

  • Submit an EOI through SkillSelect.
  • Receive an invitation to apply for the visa.
  • Lodge a formal visa application within the specified timeframe, providing all necessary documents and meeting the eligibility criteria.

Pacific Engagement Visa

The Pacific Engagement Visa initiative is designed to fortify connections between Australia and Pacific Island nations, including Timor-Leste, by offering up to 3,000 nationals annually the chance to become permanent residents in Australia. This program not only promotes cultural, business, and educational exchanges but also addresses skill shortages in the Australian trade sector. It serves as a platform for cultural exchange and mutual growth, benefiting Australia and the participating Pacific countries.

Qualifications to be Eligible:

  • Age Requirement: Applicants must be aged between 18 to 45.
  • Employment: A formal full-time job offer in Australia is required.
  • Language and Other Requirements: Basic English proficiency, along with health and character requirements, must be met.

Application Process:

  • Registration in a ballot system for applicants, their partners, and dependent children.
  • Successful candidates from the ballot will then apply for the visa.

New Skills in Demand Visa

The Australian government has introduced the new Skills in Demand visa, which will replace the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482). This new visa has three targeted pathways to enhance worker mobility in the labor market:

Specialist Skills Pathway

For highly skilled migrants earning at least AUD 135,000 annually.This is open to most professions, excluding trades, affecting blue-collar jobs in this part.

  • Eligibility: Highly skilled workers with guaranteed annual earnings of at least AUD 135,000.
  • Processing Time: Priority processing within 7 days.
  • Occupations: Open to most professions except for trades, machinery operators, drivers, and labourers​

Core Skills Pathway

The Core Skills Pathway is for workers in occupations listed on the new Core Skills Occupation List, which targets high-demand jobs across various sectors. Applicants must have guaranteed annual earnings in order to apply.

  • Eligibility: Workers earning at least the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently set at AUD 70,000.

  • Processing Time: 21 days.
  • Occupations: Focuses on jobs in high demand across various sectors​ 

Essential Skills Pathway

The Essential Skills Pathway is designed to address labor shortages in critical sectors that typically offer lower wages but require essential skills. This pathway is still under development and is expected to be finalized by mid-2024. Here are the key aspects and features based on the latest information:

Eligibility Criteria

  • Occupation: Targeted at workers in essential skill occupations. Specific occupations are yet to be fully determined, but the initial focus includes sectors such as aged care and disability services​ (Skylark Migration Specialists)​​ (The Migration)​.
  • Salary: Applicants must have guaranteed annual earnings below AUD 70,000​ (Wise)​​ (Migration Expert Australia)​.
  • Other Requirements: Health and character requirements, similar to other visa streams, will apply.

Key Notes on Visa Application Changes

As of 2024, there are new changes applied in the Visa Application Process:

  • Visa Processing Efficiency: The government is investing in upgrading visa ICT systems to improve processing efficiency. This includes a median processing time of 21 days for the new Skills in Demand visa.
  • Increased Employee Mobility: Visa holders will now have 180 days to find a new sponsor if they cease employment with their current sponsor, up from 60 days.

Qualifying Trade Occupations

Qualifying Trade Occupations

Australian immigration policies significantly impact blue-collar industries by categorising specific occupations in the skilled occupation list, which outlines the qualifications required for various job roles.

Here’s a tabulated view of these sample industries:

IndustryQualification RequiredType of Experience/Apprenticeship
CarpentryCertificate III in Carpentry or equivalentApprenticeship in carpentry
ElectricianElectrical license or Certificate III in Electrotechnology ElectricianElectrical apprenticeship
ManufacturingCertificate III in Manufacturing Technology or similarVocational training in manufacturing
ConstructionCertificate III in Construction or Diploma in Building and ConstructionApprenticeship or training in construction
StoneworksCertificate III in StonemasonryTraining in stone cutting and installation

Australia’s skilled occupation lists, which include the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL), Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and the Regional Occupation List (ROL), are used to determine eligibility for various skilled visas. These lists are periodically updated to reflect the changing needs of the Australian labor market, impacting trade jobs in Australia.

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Impact of Immigration Policies on Trades Needed in Australia

Australian immigration policies have a profound influence on the availability of skilled labor, particularly in sectors where trades needed in Australia are in high demand. Recent policy changes aim to address shortages in these crucial areas by facilitating the entry of skilled migrants into the trade sector.

For instance, enhancements to visa requirements and the introduction of new visa types are strategically designed to fill gaps in trades like electrical, plumbing, construction, and metal fabrication, which continue to see a surge in demand. Understanding these policies helps potential immigrants and employers alike to navigate the complexities of the labor market and align their skills and needs with the trades most needed across the country.

Rights of Immigrants Given by the Australian Government

Rights of Immigrants Given by the Australian Government

In Australia, all workers, including immigrants working in the trade sector, are entitled to the same fundamental workplace rights and protections, irrespective of their citizenship or visa status. These rights are safeguarded under Australian workplace laws and cannot be overridden by any contracts or agreements.

Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) plays a critical role in protecting and enforcing the rights of visa holders. This includes ensuring that employers comply with Australian workplace laws and immigration laws. For instance, employers cannot cancel an employee’s visa even if there has been a breach of visa conditions. Only the Department of Home Affairs has the authority to grant, refuse, or cancel visas.

Assurance Protocol

Furthermore, the Australian government has established the Assurance Protocol, which supports visa holders who have experienced workplace exploitation. Under this protocol, a worker’s visa will not be canceled due to a breach of work-related visa conditions if they have been exploited in the workplace, provided they have sought help from the FWO and are cooperating with their inquiries.

This protection is extended to visa holders under various categories, including those with permission to work, such as the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) and Student visas (subclass 500 series), among others.

Awareness of Workplace Exploitation

Signs of workplace exploitation that visa holders should be aware of include threats to cancel visas, wage underpayments, unfair deductions, and being pressured to work beyond the restrictions of a visa. Visa holders experiencing such exploitation are encouraged to seek help from the FWO.

Conclusion

Australian immigration policies, particularly those related to skilled migration and visa changes, significantly influence the trade sector. These policies, including introducing new visa categories and adjusting to existing ones, play a crucial role in shaping the labor market dynamics and addressing skills shortages. They also impact the economic contributions of migrants, who are vital to Australia’s GDP growth and labor force diversity.

At Dayjob Recruitment, we understand the complexities and nuances of these immigration policies and their impact on the trade sector. Our expertise lies in guiding both employers and skilled trades workers through the visa application process, ensuring compliance with all requirements, and maximizing the potential of skilled migration, particularly in trade jobs and stone industry jobs in Australia.

Contact us to explore how we can assist you in making the most of Australia’s dynamic and opportunity-rich trade sector.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any age restrictions for tradespeople applying for immigration to Australia?

While there is no maximum age limit for a general skilled migration program in Australia, some visas may have age restrictions or additional requirements based on age. It is important for tradespeople considering immigration to carefully review the specific visa requirements and consult with an immigration professional for accurate guidance based on their circumstances.

Can tradespeople bring their families when immigrating to Australia?

Yes, tradespeople who successfully obtain an Australian visa can typically include their immediate family members (spouse/partner and dependent children) in their application. However, it is crucial to comply with all relevant conditions, such as for skilled migration visa, regarding family members’ eligibility and provide adequate documentation supporting their relationship.

Are there any initiatives or programs specifically aimed at attracting skilled tradespeople?

Australia has implemented various initiatives and programs to attract skilled tradespeople. For example, the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) encourages employers in regional areas experiencing labor shortages to nominate overseas workers in certain trade occupations. State-specific sponsorship programs prioritize occupations in demand within each state or territory.

How do I get skilled migration to Australia?

To apply for skilled migration to Australia, start by lodging an Expression of Interest (EOI) through the SkillSelect online system. Depending on your visa type, you might need a state/territory nomination or to meet other specific criteria. Sponsored and unsponsored skilled visas are available.

What are the minimum points for skilled migration in Australia?

The minimum points for most skilled migration visas in Australia, like the subclass 189, 190, 485, and 491 visas, is 65 points. Points are awarded based on age, qualifications, English language skills, and other factors​ (Australian Department of Home Affairs)​.

Is Australian skilled migration legit?

Australian skilled migration is a legitimate program designed to attract skilled workers to contribute to the Australian economy and fill roles where there are no local workers available​.

Am I eligible for a skilled visa in Australia?

Eligibility for a skilled visa in Australia requires meeting specific criteria including age, English language proficiency, and having an occupation on Australia’s Skilled Occupation List. You must first submit an EOI through SkillSelect. Some visas also require state/territory nomination​.

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