Report: More non-Australian workers eyeing Australia

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 Political and economic uncertainty in the US and UK is resulting in a shift away from these countries on the part of expat job seekers, in favour of Australia, Canada and Asia, according to data from Indeed, a US-based, global jobs listing company. 

With respect to Australia, the data shows that in the four months to the end of April, there has been a 30% increase in the overall number of overseas job seekers looking for roles Down Under, compared with the same period last year.

The analysis also suggests that across a number of high-skilled professions, “there is in fact stronger search interest from overseas compared to local search interest” in the Australian market, Indeed noted, in a summary of its findings.

“In terms of the overall increase in inbound searches [of the Australian jobs market], the research shows that the biggest increases came from India, up 55%; Japan, up 48%; United Arab Emirates, up 26%; and South Africa, up 22%.

“Conversely, there has been a 10% increase in the number of overseas jobs searches from Australia, but with job seekers looking less at the US and UK, and more at Canada and Asia, including Japan, Korea, China and Singapore,” Indeed said.

Interest from foreigners was stronger than interest among Aussies in jobs involving or requiring skills in software technology, science, medical technology, certain areas of engineering as well as engineering generally; finance, accounting, medicine, nursing, dentistry, project work and marketing.

Australia crackdown on skilled ‘457 visas’

The data showing apparent heightened interest by skilled foreign workers in seeking employment in Australia covered a three-month period during which the country’s prime minister announced measures aimed at making it harder for non-Australians to be employed by Australian companies.

As reported on 18 April,   Malcolm Turnbull announced plans to abolish Australia’s so-called “457 skilled visa programme” and to replace it with a temporary visa with new requirements for temporary foreign workers, which would make it harder to gain permanent residence, while also reducing the number of skills covered by such visas.

Two days later Turnbull announced that a new four-year probation period would be added to the requirements Australian citizenship applicants needed to meet, along with a new English language proficiency standard and proof of the applicant’s acceptance of “Australian values”, in order to obtain full Australian citizenship.

Although Australia has historically been an “immigration nation”, Turnbull said, explaining his reasons for cracking down on the 457 visas, “the fact remains: Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs”.

Possible impact seen

Chris McDonald, managing director of Australia and New Zealand for Indeed, said it would be “interesting” to see whether “publicity around the tightening of Australia’s working visa regime will have any impact on the increased levels of interest we have seen from overseas job seekers”, but noted that workers in many countries were weighing up variables on both sides of the equation.

For example, he noted, Indeed data showed a 13% increase in UK financial services workers looking at job options in Australia in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same three months in 2016, reflecting, it is thought, the uncertainty created by the UK referendum results in June that called for the UK to leave the European Union.

“The global job market is not only highly competitive, but also quite fluid, and opportunities to attract highly-skilled workers today may not necessarily be there in six or 12 months’ time,” he noted.

“The world’s best and brightest in areas like science and technology look to where there is both opportunity and policy settings conducive to the attraction of international talent.”

As a result, if barriers are put in the way of overseas recruitment, including tighter visa arrangements, highly-skilled workers will shift their focus to other markets that are seen as more competitive, he said.

Austin, Texas-headquartered Indeed is a website-based recruitment entity, which claims to be visited by more than 200 million people monthly. It was founded in 2004, and since 2012 has been owned by the listed, Tokyo-based Recruit Holdings.

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