Indians have become the second largest group of skilled migrants arriving on Australian shores under the temporary skilled migration programme during 2007-2008, according to new data released on Tuesday by Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans.
While almost a quarter of the temporary workers came from the UK, India came second with 14 percent followed by the Philippines at nine per cent and South Africa at six per cent.
To meet the severe national skills shortages, especially in professional occupations and highly skilled jobs, as many as 110,570 visas were granted under the temporary skilled migration programme last year, a 27 per cent increase on the previous year's 87,310.
As many as 81 per cent of 457 (work) visa holders were employed in professional occupations and highly skilled jobs with computing professionals, registered nurses, and business and information professionals being the top three listed occupations for temporary overseas workers.
The minimum salary Levels for 457 visa holders will increase by 3.8 per cent beginning Aug 1 next, after remaining frozen for over two years. The average nominated base salary for the temporary workers is about A$73,100.
Evans emphasised that the programme is not a cheap labour scheme and the government would not tolerate the exploitation of workers.
"Although incidents of migrant worker exploitation are the exception rather than the rule, the government is moving to improve the protections in place to prevent exploitation of temporary skilled workers from overseas," Evans said in a statement.
Many of those coming under the temporary skilled migration programme are choosing to become permanent residents. Almost 25,000 people on 457 visas became permanent residents during 2007-08, up 30 per cent on the previous year.