25 August 2014

Do we really need recruiters on 457 visas?

The Federal Government has just released the latest 457 visa report. It makes for interesting reading.
The headline statistics are:
  • The number of subclass 457 primary visas granted, 51,940, in the 2013-14 year was 24.2 per cent lower than the previous year, 68 480.
  • The number of primary visa holders in Australia on 30 June 2014 was 108,870, 0.8 per cent higher compared with the previous year, which was 107,970.
  • In 2013-14 year the largest nominated position location for primary 457 visa grants was New South Wales (37.9 per cent). The next largest locations were Victoria (23.6 per cent) and Western Australia (16.6 per cent).
  • The top three industries for primary visa grants in the 2013-14 year were Other Services (13.9 per cent), Accommodation and Food Services (12.1 per cent) and Information Media and Telecommunications (11.2 per cent).
  • Cooks were the largest occupation for primary visa grants in 2013-14 with 5.2% of total primary visa grants. CafĂ© or Restaurant Manager (4.0%) and Developer Programmer (3.7%) were the next two largest occupation subclasses for primary visa grants.
  • The top three citizenship countries for primary visa grants in 2013-14 were India (23.3 per cent), the UK (18.3%) and the Republic of Ireland (7.2%).
As the report only lists the largest fifteen subclass categories, we do not have comprehensive national figures made available for recruitment consultants.

As at 30 September, 2013 there were 1,750 recruitment consultants in Australia holding a 457 visa. As at 31 December 2013 there were 1,370 recruitment consultants in Australia holding a 457 visa, a drop of 21.7% in only three months. As at 31 March 2014 recruitment consultants did not make the top fifteen list of subclass occupations.

Using the 31 December 2013 figures as my reference point, it seems that both NSW and WA easily ‘lead’ the way in hiring 457 visa-holding recruitment consultants, using each state’s workforce as a proportion of the national workforce, as a benchmark.

% of Aus workforce
% of 457 recruiters in Aus based in this state
Total # of recruiters in this state holding a 457 visa
South Australia

I am pleased to see that there appears to be a significant reduction in the number of recruiters holding a 457 in Australia. Nothing personal against any of these recruiters (I know a few) but as there are no specific qualifications required to hold a recruitment consultant position, why do we need any 457s to be issued at all?

Having so many recruiters on 457 visas reflects poorly on our industry in this country.

We are the recruitment industry – we should pride ourselves on the skills we have to find appropriate people in the markets local to us, without having to recruit from outside our borders.
The skills of a vast majority of recruiters currently holding 457 visas in this country are not so special that they couldn't be taught to appropriately competency-profiled locals, in a maximum of six months - if there was the commitment to do so.

Do we really need recruiters on 457 visas, or do we really need a much greater commitment, by our industry as a whole, to find all the recruiters we need within Terra Australis?
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  1. I think it's more a reflection of the poor state of the recruitment industry in Australia as Recruitment owners know it's a lot harder for someone on a 457 to quit their crappy agency. Locals simply won't do the hard slog it involves.

  2. At Conduit we always found that some of our best recruiters were hired from similar sales based industries and trained up. We looked for personalities rather than past recruitment experience. However, sadly, some of the best contenders just happened to have 457 visas !! Bright eyed offshore types were just more common. Pure statistics. 457 scenario was annoying and costly but couldn't be avoided in Australia.

  3. An interesting point, Ross, as I was fortunate enough to enter Australia on a 457 as a recruitment consultant for Ernst & Young. In my own case E&Y needed someone down here who knew Asia and I had spent 20 years in Hong Kong. It was part of a global consulting initiative. Also, I can see a case for highly specialised and experienced recruitment consultants in particular fields such as IT. Companies are supposed to make a case for the 457 so maybe you should do a further breakdown of the statistics.

    1. Thanks a genuine case, Martin, and in circumstances like that I have no problem but it's the many other cases where there is (in my opinion) no genuine reason to hire a person under a 457 that irritate me. It makes our industry a bit of a joke that a client hears from their 'new account manager' who is not much more than a UK backpacker with a degree a couple of years' experience.

  4. I'm also aware that some immigration consultancies have recruitment arms so they introduce a recruitment consultant on a 457 to offer a better service. For instance, this might be finding tradies or nurses from Ireland. A recruitment consultant with local knowledge of that country, albeit with perhaps only a few months' experience of living in Australia, would be much better placed to find the right people.

  5. In my experience the UK candidates are often some of the best candidates. So many of them seem born knowing how to sell and how to work a phone. There are just not as many Aussie candidates in that bucket unfortunately. Of course they exist, that is not a blanket statement, but if you want the best candidates you would never rule out overseas candidates.