Australia warned tighter visa rules could drive away skilled workers from country

Australia warned tighter visa rules could drive away skilled workers from country Sydney: Tighter labour migration rules in Australia could drive skilled workers to other developed nations, which could cost the country, experts have warned.

Countries such as the US and Germany have recently eased migration policies to replenish an ageing workforce and experts said that the move could attract workers otherwise bound for Australia.

According to the Age, Vivek Wadhwa, author and fellow at Stanford Law School, said Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s potential revision of 457 visa policies would cause the Australian government to ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory – again’.

Gillard has cited rapid growth in 457 visa numbers to back her concern that employers were rorting the system and Australian workers were missing out on jobs.

IT workers in Australia, however, have backed her calls for employers to consider the local workforce first.

On Monday, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the federal government’s attack on the 457 visa scheme had ‘not been clever’ and called for it to be simplified.

Wadhwa, who extolled the importance of immigration in his book The Immigrant Exodus: Why America is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent, said that after being recognised worldwide as a destination for smart technologists, Australia is reversing course.

He added that this is just when its local tech scene is beginning to flourish and when it needs these people the most.

Traditionally conservative US and German politicians have quelled xenophobic immigration forces to import the highly skilled workers, the report said.

Next month, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting applications for the H-1B visa, popular among tech companies to attract Indians and Chinese.

The agency expects to fill its quota of 65,000 applications in the first five days. If applicants hold a master’s degree or higher, their employers are exempt from the quota cap.

According to the report, Germany receives the fifth-largest number of highly-skilled immigrants in the world.

India, the world’s largest IT skills exporter, satisfies 80 percent of Germany’s technology job requirements. In 2011, Germany rejected only two percent of applications from Bangalore.

Jonathan Chaloff, one of the report''s authors, said fewer opportunities in the US, Britain, Australia and Canada, typically the most desired destinations for Indian skilled workers, could drive labour migrants to Germany, the report added.