Raising of the language barrier with tougher English tests
By Malcolm Farr
Article from: The Daily Telegraph
April 15, 2009 12:00am
TOUGHER language qualifications were imposed on overseas workers yesterday – making it harder for them to compete for the shrinking number of jobs across Australia.
The English test has been tightened for new applicants for skilled work temporary entry permits, known as 457 visas.
Applicants must now score a minimum of five in the English Language Testing System exam, up from 4.5.
The highest score on the ELTS is nine, which is equivalent to a native speaker.
The minimum requirement for migrants in professions is six.
The test was introduced in July 2007 and the higher rating will apply to all applicants with trades and chef qualifications.
The immigration department said the upgraded language requirement was needed to protect migrants with poor English from being exploited.
It was the first measure of a package designed to provide needed skills “while not undermining local training and employment opportunities”.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the new requirements would ensure at least a “modest” level of English.
In effect it means applicants for temporary skilled work visas will have to be as fluent in English as skilled workers applying for permanent residency.
The Government also intends to overhaul the 457 visa system but has declined to cap the number of workers allowed in on the temporary permits.
From July, indexed minimum pay rates for 457 visa holders will be increased by 4.1 per cent to match Australian rates.
Source: The Daily Telegraph