Australia’s skilled visa system delivers “highly qualified Uber drivers”

Over the past year, business groups have lobbied the federal government to ramp-up immigration via:

  • Uncapping access to temporary migrant workers and abolishing labour market testing on Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visas.
  • Speeding up and lowering the cost 0f visa applications.
  • Doubling the permanent ‘skilled’ migrant intake to 200,000 people a year to make up for ‘losses’ over the pandemic.
  • Offering prospective temporary migrants tax incentives, free Medicare and free flights.

Hilariously, at the same time as the business lobby wants the federal government to open the visa floodgates, we are also hearing complaints about the swelling numbers of unemployed and underemployed ‘skilled’ migrants:

Nearly one in four permanent skilled migrants worked in a job beneath their skill level, according to a 2021 report by Committee for Economic Development of Australia [CEDA].

Migrants were least likely to find work in their nominated occupation if they were accountants (42.8 per cent working in lower-skilled occupations), civil engineering professionals (27.8 per cent) or cooks (25.7 per cent)…

The problem was worse in migration schemes managed by state governments than employer-sponsored schemes, the report said…

“The other conflicting message is from industry, where we hear about skills shortages,” [Andreas Cebulla from Flinders University’s Australian Industrial Transformation Institute said].

“When it comes to actually employing those migrants they’re calling for, they’re not fitting the job description”.

“You end up with lots of highly qualified Uber drivers.”

CEDA’s report is merely one of many showing that most recently arrived ‘skilled’ migrants are working in areas below their reported skill level. As such, they are exacerbating Australia’s skills mismatch.

For example, the Australian Population Research Institute (APRI) released research, based on 2016 Census data, showing that most recently arrived skilled migrants (i.e. that arrived between 2011 and 2016) could not find professional jobs.

Only 24% of skilled migrants from Non-English-Speaking-Countries (comprising 84% of the total skilled migrant intake) were employed professionally as of 2016, compared with 50% of skilled migrants from Main English-Speaking-Countries and 58% of the same aged Australian-born graduates.

APRI’s results were corroborated by a 2017 survey from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, which found that 53% of skilled migrants in Western Australia were working in lower skilled jobs than before they arrived in Australia.

In a similar vein. an Adelaide University survey of 1700 skilled migrants living in South Australia found 53% were not utilising their skills and abilities, with 44% working in a job different from what they nominated in their visa application. 15% of these migrants were also unemployed.

The November 2021 issue of Engineers Australia’s industry magazine, Create, complained that 47% of all migrant engineers were unemployed and another one third were working in jobs well below their level of qualification.

Most alarmingly, the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) showed that only 41.6% of international graduates living in Australia were employed full-time in 2021, versus 68.9% of domestic graduates:

Undergraduate full-time employmentUndergraduate employment rate

The median full-time salary of international graduates was also only $54,300 in 2021, well below the $65,000 median full-time salary of domestic graduates:

Undergraduate median full-time salaryUndergraduate salaries

Therefore, only a minority of international graduates worked full-time, and of those that did, they were poorly paid. Thus, the median total wage of international graduates would be far worse, given most work part-time (unlike domestic graduates).

All of this evidence proves, once again, that Australia’s so-called ‘skilled’ visa system is really a giant con designed with one purposel in mind: to develop a migrant underclass for chosen sectors to exploit. No wonder most Australians do not support pre-COVID levels of immigration.

Before the Albanese Government even considers lifting the skilled migrant intake to solve ‘skills shortages’ and ‘skills mismatches’, those migrants already in Australia should be utilised properly.

The federal government should also make all skilled visas employer-sponsored (given their superior job outcomes) and lift the minimum salary threshold pertaining to all skilled migrants above the median full-time salary (currently $83,000).

Otherwise Australia’s migrant underclass will continue to swell, worsening skills shortages and mismatches.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Quantitative FleecingMEMBER

    Who controls the visa application and approval process? Is it a government body or a private company? Who are the officials in charge?

    • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

      And Todays news, Sydney high end restaurants complaining about the lack of staff.

      Without Skilled Visa workers it is hard to staff (at low wage jobs).
      Also who will live 4 people in a 1 bedroom apartment to keep rents high.
      and all the externality costs of cheap labour-

      Since when is bar worker on minimum wage considered a skilled visa?

      And why not allow pensioners to work if they want to, by fixing the pension to tax rules. This is requested by national Seniors organisations.

      The problem is high wealth customers now have to pay more for meals, renovations, and cleaning, if staff are paid properly.
      Or if there is a shortage of low wage staff some things are no longer essential or economic businesses (such as expensive restaurants and Uber – oh no have to cook. High end renovations up $ 5K oh no. Catch a bus ?
      Other businesses can be automated if no cheap labour – e.g. Fruit picking is being developed now.. Wheat farming has been mechanized for 100 years, you don’t have people out with scythes.

      • kiwikarynMEMBER

        We should be like America. Welcome illegal immigration with open arms, so that the middle class can afford to have servants. Unlike the Americans, few of us have housekeepers, cooks, nannies, gardeners, and pool boys. We cant just swing by a local corner and pick up a couple of labourers for that quick reno project. We deserve better. We deserve cheaper. Just think of the opportunity we missed out on by incarcerating all those boat people, when they could have been cleaning our toilets for $5 an hour.

        • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

          Yes, the winging about renovation costs is the new BBQ stopper chat, now BBQs are back. Where are those $10 an hour skilled immigration and “students”?
          Labour costs for renovations arejust hammering if you have bought one of those 1.5 million dollar dumps with 100 year old kitchen just bought on loan on 10 times income, with a plan for $ 20k of renos now 60K!, and no cash flow left.
          Next Uber Eats will go up if riders are paid a wage.

      • Peter SMEMBER

        There is a real allocation issue, however.
        I know of a popular hotel with accommodation in a tourist area that has just shut down on Mondays and Tuesdays for lack of kitchen staff.
        Another publican I heard on the SABC saying that three years ago he would advertise for a chef at $30 per hour and get 30 applications, now, he advertises at $60 per hour and might get 2 interested parties at best.

        • Strange EconomicsMEMBER

          Five years ago rent a house for $250 a week in the country town
          and bar wage of 20 an hour. , minus 7$ an hour rent.
          now 600 plus if you can find one thats not an Air BNB
          Average bar wage advertised is 30 an hour.,
          minus 15 an hour for housing and gas/electricity.

          Not really possible to live and work in a regional town on a gig job.
          .Business killed by the property ponzi.

          • Absolutely true! Those are useful numbers.
            Apparently, the solution to this mess is to ramp up net overseas migration to 200,000 per annum!
            Where do our leaders get their marching instructions from? High Rise Harry?

  2. Camden HavenMEMBER

    I think I read somewhere that migrants on welfare is a surprisingly high rate.

    Spoiler alert… I harbour racist attitudes sometimes

  3. SkepticviewerMEMBER

    Its all part of a greater movement toward the competitive global labour market, Gina’s $2.00 an hour coming up. (Really I think we can do better than that maybe .50c ). The nature of the psychopath is they never learn and they cannot feel much like a terminator nothing else matters. While Albo is busy collecting God points for his upcoming extension of the grannie program, he fails to recognise that he will be less than one term Albo. Can the situation be fixed? Yes, by Climate Change mutiple disasters, but that will take a little while. Such disasters will waken the Australian masses into thinking about – without food and resources they die or we give those resources to the third world by way of god point people importation and we die – mode.

  4. Presently, post-COVID net migration is only running at 60,000 pa, but we are told that there are big “visa backlogs” and “skill mismatches”. If Jim Chalmers triples net migration, how will that help?

    Net migration should not be increased above current rates. Every single “skilled” migrant should be employer sponsored, on a salary of $100K at least, not the current threshold of $54K.

    The s

    • 6 Months more extension luckMEMBER

      Luckily another 6 months till lots of cheap renters arrive to fill up all the remaining rents-
      the understaffed govt bureacracy cut by years of LNP cuts, is delaying mass immigration by another 6 months. And China has discouraged students.

  5. Jumping jack flash

    The business lobby are uneducated useful idiots that simply dont understand business at all. Or economics.

    What goes around comes around. If businesses paid more wages they’d get more back in revenue.

    But that’s not how they think. And that plays nicely into the hands of our glorious leaders who simply use immigration as a liquidity sponge when too much debt is created, and/or to stop the debt from spilling out into wages and consumption too much.

    Uber drivers cant really fully participate in the debt economy. Kitchen hands and wait staff cant either, but they do get paid *something* and given enough pockets the debt will find a home without adding to inflation.

  6. ParraPowerMEMBER

    I strongly disagree with headline.
    Dont get me started on their driving skills.

  7. Just what has occurred over all history. All nations are built on slaves, convicts and cheap labor.
    Usually with big Capital as the architect.

  8. Fishing72MEMBER

    There seems to be some confusion over the meaning of a “skilled” worker. Some have erroneously assumed the “skill” refers to the immigrant’s prowess at a designated occupation. This is incorrect. The “skill” is a generic term referencing the ability to contribute to a nation wide lowering of labour costs. Not everyone possess this ability. Politicians, for example, are decidedly unable to reduce the remuneration in their field. Thankfully we are able to access an entire global talent pool from third world nations who are highly talented in competing with fellow workers to drive labour costs into the dirt.

    • Skilled ex polliesMEMBER

      And a pool of highty skilled ex LNP pollies to fill “30% of the highly paid public board appointments” it seems. No need for non polles to apply.

  9. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Look, I don’t really like migrants, they’re a bit strange looking and smell a bit, except for the lounge girls, although they can smell a bit too if you get to them late, but we need cheap labour so this is just something we all need to endure for the greater good!

    • There are algos for that kinda thing now … you know so individual bias won’t effect the hiring process …. giggles …

  10. Most Australians DO support high immigration.

    At the last federal election:
    Approx 30% of voters voted number 1 for Liberal. Liberal has high immigration policies.
    Approx 30% of voters voted number 1 for Labor. Labor has high immigration policies.

    Since 60% of voters voted for parties with high immigration policies it is fair to say:
    Most Australians DO support high immigration. (and they have been getting what they have been voting for)

    • Peter SMEMBER

      Just maybe, other policies played a part.
      If only the population issue was in contention at an election, then 80% would be voting for Sustainable Australia.

    • Peter S has it right.
      In the 2019 election immigration was a priority issue for only 3% of voters. Note that this alone does not inform a view as to whether it should be lower, higher or stay the same.
      Further, the most immigration was the most important issue for only 2% of Coalition and Labor voters, while for Greens voters it was 6% and for Others, 5%.
      Further, immigration / refugees was the most important consideration in the voting decision for 4% of voters, the lowest ranked of the issues (in order: economy, parties as a whole, environment, health, tax, local candidates, leaders, education, then immigration/refugees).

      I expect we would agree that there is a disconnection between voter’s intention and an informed view.

      • Yes my comment was unclear.

        The word support has two meanings
        1 – support – to provide a basis for the existence or subsistence of
        2 – support – like and approve of

        Most Australians may not support (like and approve of) high immigration, however 60% of them vote for parties with high immigration policies therefore 60% of voters support (provide a basis for the existence or subsistence of) high immigration.

        As you suggest, the moronic voters are thinking of other factors when they vote.

  11. I wonder if inflation will put a dent in the restaurant trade or people replace more expensive options with cheaper takeaway and even more delivery drivers.

  12. kiwikarynMEMBER

    By the look of the auction rooms, I think most international students are here simply to launder their parents money into the property market. Its one way around the foreign buyer bans – get your degree, get residency, go buy a house and land package.

    • Not foreign buyerMEMBER

      Yep there’s a drop in foreign buyers. Instead get residency in 2 years via student visa and non-foreign buyer.