04 Migrant student job fear
A SURGE in international students competing for jobs with Australian school leavers and university graduates has sparked a Fair Work Ombudsman exploitation crackdown.
The number of foreign students with the right to work in Australia soared 10 per cent to a record 486,934 during 2017-18.
Unions have warned the federal government that overseas students desperate to live in Australia are undercutting local jobseekers by working for lower pay.
Fair Work Ombudsman Sandra Parker has threatened to track down bosses who take advantage. She said 60 per cent of Fair Work court actions last financial year alleged serious breaches of workplace laws by businesses employing migrant workers.
“In particular, we’ve seen an increase in requests for assistance from international students,’’ she said. “All workers in Australia have the same workplace rights, and the deliberate exploitation of visa holders will not be tolerated.’’
Department of Home Affairs data reveals a 10 per cent jump in the number of international students during 2017-18, with most from China, India and Nepal.
The number of foreign students with work rights has leapt 30 per cent in the past three years, while many local school-leavers and graduates are struggling to find work.
Foreigners studying at university or training colleges, such as TAFE, can work for 40 hours a fortnight, with unlimited hours during study breaks.
But they can work without restrictions for up to four years after they graduate from an Australian university — pitting them directly against local graduates for entry-level jobs.
The number of these “temporary graduates’’ ballooned to a record 71,157 during 2017-18.
Chinese make up nearly a quarter of all foreign students, with the number increasing 7.8 per cent to 112,297 by the end of June. The number of Indian students grew 18.3 per cent to 70,240, and the Nepalese total soared 55 per cent to 41,696.
The Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, which represents workers in the retail and fast food sectors, has warned the federal government foreign workers are taking Australian jobs.
“Often, temporary visa workers are being engaged where skilled and qualified Australian workers are available to do the work,’’ the union has told a Senate inquiry.
“It is too easy for unscrupulous employers to abuse and rort the system. The promise of residency can be an incentive for migrants to accept poor wages and conditions.’’
The unemployment rate among young Australians aged 20 to 24 years is 9.3 per cent for those seeking full-time jobs, and 5.8 per cent among those seeking part-time work, the latest ABS data shows.
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