June 2018 – Employing international mechanical staff to combat the Australian skills shortage

In any resource-rich nation, it is commonplace for the large mining companies to pay extravagant wages, in order to fill their staffing needs. They have thousands of tonnes of product to move and if they have to pay someone $100,000 a year to drive a truck, then that’s what they will do. Probably every Australian dealership has lost staff in some form or another to the resource sector, especially dealerships within regional areas.

To combat this, dealerships have been forced to look elsewhere to secure the staff they need. Many service departments in regional areas are booked out weeks in advance, not because of an influx of work, but simply because they do not have the staff to make full use of the service bays.

We receive many requests for assistance with finding mechanical staff. Whilst there are certainly plenty of Mechanics within the relevant PMA’s, getting them to move is a totally different story. Chances are, if they are any good, as soon as they resign their employer is going to throw more money at them to stay. So, unless you are going to pay a silly hourly rate, an alternative labour pool needs to be considered.

If you look in the right spots, Technicians can be sourced from outside of Australia who have a wealth of experience and knowledge. In some cases, they can be even better skilled than their local counterparts, but it is a case by case basis. We have recently invested heavily in establishing multiple pathways that allow us to network with technical staff from around the globe. With many senior management contacts from major overseas dealerships in areas such as South Africa, the Middle East and Asia, we have received excellent guidance on the best areas to attract candidates from. In the last 4-5 weeks, we have uncovered around 70 such Technicians, all of which are looking to move to Australia and have relevant experience with the brands found here. Many are experienced with European brands also, which is an area with a major staff shortage and lack of technical knowledge.

457 Visa OUT and 482 IN

Overseas Mechanical candidates were traditionally employed under the 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) visa, however this Visa is now closed to new applicants, and has instead been replaced by the 482 Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) Visa. The TSS Visa has taken over from 18 March 2018 and has a higher requirement for English language abilities, minimum periods of relevant work experience and other changes covering health, occupations, labour market testing and nomination requirements. The TSS has three streams, being:

Short Term Stream – Valid for up to 2 years, only renewable once and the nominated occupation must be on the Short Term Skilled Occupations List. English proficiency score of 5 with a minimum of 4.5 in each test component.

Medium Term Stream – Valid for up to 4 years, renewable more than once and the nominated occupation must be on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List. Permanent Residency pathway available after 3 years. English proficiency score of 5 with a minimum of 5.0 in each test component.

Labour Agreement Stream – This stream is for employers who have negotiated a labour agreement with the Australian Government.

Automotive Electricians, Diesel Motor Mechanics, Motor Mechanics, Motorcycle Mechanics, Panelbeaters and Accountants are all occupations found on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List.

Employers who were approved as a Standard Business Sponsor under the 457 Visa regime can use that approval to apply for TSS Visa nominations and applications.

Steps and costs involved

The process for employing a staff member under the TSS Visa is a three-step process and involves:

Step 1: a sponsorship application by the employer. The fee on the employer for this step is $420 and is valid for 5 years.

Step 2: a nomination application for a skilled position by the employer, at a cost of $330.

Step 3: a visa application by the proposed employee, at a cost of $2400, payable by the applicant for a medium stream class, or $1150 for short term.

The three steps above must be completed in order. You do not, however, have to wait for each application to be approved to move onto the next step. The processing times for medium-term visas is supposedly within 17 days for 90% of the applications.

Ready to fill your workshop?

If you are having trouble finding mechanical staff, then pick up the phone and we can have an open and frank discussion on what YOU WANT, what YOU DO NOT WANT, WHERE you want them and WHEN!

Additional information on the TSS Visa system can be found on the Australian Government’s website at the following address – https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/

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