FOREIGN workers are taking jobs from young Australians by using student or backpacker visas as a “back door” to work here, study findings claim.
Monash University demographer Bob Birrell, who heads the Centre for Population and Urban Research, wants the Gillard government to slow its “full-throttle” immigration program until Australia’s economy recovers.
“Ferocious competition” from nearly a million temporary migrants, including students, backpackers and short-term workers, is fueling Australia’s youth unemployment,” Professor Birrell warns in a provocative study to be released today.
“Though allegedly here for various educational, holiday and cultural exchange purposes, large numbers are primarily in Australia to work,” the report says.
“… the system is being navigated by people `jumping the queue’ in order to obtain permanent residency.
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“Employer sponsorship is increasingly being used as a backdoor entry method, which enables some employers to get a competitive advantage and some migrants to evade the much tougher entry rules applied to points-tested migrants.”
The Monash study shows that 58,000 new jobs were created in the year to August, but 100,000 migrants arrived and found work during the same period.
Youth unemployment has soared 80 per cent in the 20 to 24-year age group since the start of the economic downturn, rising from 4.5 per cent in June 2008 to 8.1 per cent in June this year.
Wages growth slow enough for rate cut
Australians’ paypackets are growing at a slower rate, giving the RBA room to cut rates again.
At the same time, the number of foreigners with work rights, but not permanent residency, has grown 4 per cent.
The figure does not include New Zealanders, who do not need a visa to work here.
Professor Birrell says too many foreign workers are competing against young Australians for first-time jobs – such as stacking supermarket shelves, retail sales or cleaning – in the big cities.
“The immigration settings are all based on boom conditions and there’s been no adjustment for the dramatic slowdown in the work market,” he said yesterday.
“Young people in particular are being swamped by new entrants, particularly in parts of Melbourne and Sydney.”