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Australian 457 Visa Reform an Opportunity for NZ Recruiters

By July 20, 2017No Comments

I remember moving to Australia back in 2005, looking forward to starting afresh after five full-on years of London living, to meeting, mixing and mingling in a new culture. Scratching around for a meaningful job I accidentally ended up securing a role in recruitment. I wasn’t entirely sure why Hays seemed so convinced I’d make a good recruiter, but after my first couple of days at work I realised: I was pretty much a blueprint for what used to work for them back then. I found myself in an office surrounded by an energised bunch of cor-blimey cheeky-chappy poms all eagerly smashing out phone calls and ringing the placement bell with great gusto.

That was Sydney. Fortunately, perhaps, I was only there for two weeks before heading up the train line to their Newcastle office where I became only the second pom in that somewhat more parochial team. But I remembered from those two weeks the biggest driving force behind those ex-pat recruiters (besides the commission cheques of course) being the promise of a 457 visa, the seeming safety net that could extend their stay in the lucky country beyond the extent of the backpackers’ working holiday visas and perhaps even lead to the holy grail of Australian Permanent Residency. In fact I secured one such visa myself, before deciding in 2006 that life in New Zealand was for me instead.

Back in April this year their PM Malcolm Turnbull announced the abolishment of the 457 visa and in its place will be a new temporary visa limited to just the most critical skills shortages. Recruiting, among many other skilled professions, is no longer included.


And so, the upshot for many overseas recruiters working in the Aussie recruitment industry, is that they are now on a limited time frame before their time is up and they will no longer be allowed to legally work there. Since the announcement, here at Rice Consulting we’ve seen a gradual rise in “457 recruiters” in Australia expressing an interest in hopping the ditch and exploring what life and work might look like here in the beautiful Aotearoa instead (I’m biased but I made the move 11 years ago and, if you’re wondering, it’s brilliant here and I wouldn’t want to be living anywhere else, so there you go.)

What looks like it could be a great opportunity for us, is undoubtedly an opportunity for all of you recruiters out there also looking for hard-to-find skilled talent for your high-growth kiwi clients. A whole new talent pool appears to be opening up to you, if you can find out the best ways to tap into it.

Certainly, this thinking is backed up by the job-search site Indeed, who yesterday reported a 10% drop in clicks from foreigners on Australian job postings in June compared to April, noting that:

“The decrease reverses the trend of recent years, when search activity was greater in June than in April.”

So it looks like the Australians are going to have to learn how to pick up the phone and recruit in greater numbers for themselves, rather than importing the fast-talking Brits that has been such a feature of their industry for so many years now.

Many, it seems, will be looking to remain in the antipodes rather than returning to the crazy old world, and who can blame them? I know that even more pommie recruiters in New Zealand will sound like a nightmare to many, but it looks like it’ll be happening, so you might as well brace yourselves, some of us are actually ok you know!

lions all blacks

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.