by Byron Connolly

BUDGET 2017: Government to introduce levy for foreign workers

May 10, 2017
Technology Industry

Companies hiring workers from overseas on the new temporary skills shortage visa and certain permanent skilled visas will be slugged with a levy that will go into the government’s new ‘Skilling Australians Fund.’

The new skilled migration levy could see some organisations forced to pay an annual charge of up to $5000 for some workers, under measures announced in the Budget last night.

During this budget speech last night, Treasurer Scott Morrison said skilled migration has always played a significant role in driving Australia’s economic growth.

“But it must be on our terms and we must skill more Australians to secure jobs,” Morrison said.

Until now, employers have contributed one to two per cent of their payroll to training if they employ foreign workers and these requirements have been difficult to police, Morrison said.

“Accordingly, we are replacing these requirements with an annual foreign worker levy of $1200 or $1800 per worker per year on temporary work visas and a $3000 or $5000 one-off levy for those on a permanent skilled visa,” Morrison said during his budget speech.

The levy will raise $1.2 billion over the next four years. According to budget papers, the government expects the fund to ensure an ongoing source of revenue to support Australian skills development and the take-up of apprenticeships and traineeships.

The government said existing training benchmarks have not been successful in generating training opportunities to allow Australians to fill skill gaps.

Responding to the changes, AIIA chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick, said he was pleased to see there will be a focus on high demand occupations and industries and sectors of future growth.

“They key will be how well this is executed,” he said. “Forty-four per cent of 5.1 million current Australian jobs are at high risk of being affected by computerisation and technology over the next 20 years, so this will be critical to ensuring Australia’s long-term global competitiveness.

“Consulting with industry in where the focus needs to be in skills development, however, is imperative,” he added.

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Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter: @ByronConnolly