JOHN MASANAUSKAS HERALD SUN OCTOBER 31, 2013 5:00PM
There are more than 13,000 foreigners working in the building industry, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne. Picture: ThinkStock Source: Supplied
THE number of foreigners with work rights in Australia has jumped amid concern that they are threatening the job prospects of young locals.
Several hundred thousand overseas students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have poured into the country, in many cases escaping faltering economies abroad.
Working holiday numbers have soared by 14 per cent over the year, with about 166,000 here as of September 30, according to the latest Immigration Department data.
Most of them hail from the UK, Taiwan, South Korea, Germany and Ireland.
Monash University migration expert Dr Bob Birrell said the uncapped program had produced a flood of young people from job-hungry countries in Europe and Asia.
“They are accessing our labour market but increasingly at the expense of young Australians who are looking for lower skilled entry level jobs,” he said.
Also competing for local jobs are skilled workers on 457 visas, with their numbers rising by 12 per cent to almost 200,000.
Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union national secretary Dave Noonan said
there were more than 13,000 foreigners working in the building industry, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne – not remote locations as was often believed.
“We don’t blame people who are taking the opportunity to come here and work, but the first obligation of Australia’s government ought to be to make sure that we’ve got jobs and decent living standards for Australian residents and citizens,” he said.
Mr Noonan said that the high number of 457 workers was unjustified given the low level of apprenticeships on offer.
Overseas students, who have limited work rights, increased their numbers by 1.4 per cent to 347,000, said the report Temporary Entrants and New Zealand Citizens in Australia.
The number of New Zealanders, who have their own special temporary visa, went up slightly to 648,200.
Overall, there were 1.73 million temporary entrants and NZ citizens here as of September 30, up 3.1 per cent on last year.
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