Mike Kalms discusses the implications on the defence industry of Australia's changing visa and immigration policies.
Defence companies often look overseas for talent. They have to.
The ADF’s project cycles are too long – who can hold onto talent across the years between projects? But now the immigration and visa rules are changing.
The Federal Government has made a strong commitment to continuous
shipbuilding in Australia, and alongside this comes a need to stimulate
workforce growth in order to meet the demands of the build program. Government initiatives such as the proposed establishment of a Naval Shipbuilding College and bi-partisan agreement to the maritime investment program outlined in the Integrated Investment Program and Naval Shipbuilding Plan are encouraging for the defence industry and provide some security on which to build their businesses and shape their workforce.
To meet the aspirations of our Government, and establish an enduring shipbuilding and maritime sustainment capability within the domestic workforce, it is going to take time.
Employers have filled skills shortages in the Australian labour market in recent years by generating a skilled workforce through avenues such as the 457 temporary visa.
However, the latest reforms to Australia’s work visa framework will have knock-on effects on how labour demand can be satisfied into the future, where demand exceeds local supply.
Whilst the changes are designed to address genuine skill gaps in the domestic workforce, they will inherently impact on the Australian Defence Industry’s ability to recruit and retain a skilled workforce.
The removal of certain occupations limits the ability for the shipbuilding industry to source talent outside Australia.
Furthermore, certain occupations will only be granted a 2-year visa, compared to 4-year visas for other roles. In practice, this reduction may be a disincentive for foreign nationals who are suitably skilled in these occupations to relocate to Australia to help fill any gaps in skills that cannot be adequately sourced from within the local labour market.
KPMG can assist defence industry in managing these policy changes and the impact they may have on business operations, workforce and taxation.