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Resource sector smaller firms and workers on temporary 457 visas

In Western Australia’s resources sector smaller firms play a critical role offering services to or contracting to larger firms.

Within these smaller firms are workers employed on the subclass 457 visa. Yet the processes required to sponsor temporary migrant labour demand practices that are highly formalised. In smaller firms, human resource management practices are characterised by informality.

Smaller firms recruitment and selection practices in particular are not known for their innovativeness. Moreover, resource poverty makes many smaller firms unattractive to potential employees. The purpose of this project is to investigate why and how do smaller firms recruit and select 457 visa workers.

Research questions

The research questions driving this study include:

  • Why and how do smaller firms employ workers on 457 visas?
  • What drives smaller firms to recruit and select temporary migrant workers who need to be sponsored on a 457 visa?
  • What are smaller firms’ experiences of 457 visa workers?
  • What are 457 visa workers’ experiences of their employment in smaller firms?

Research methods

Data is gathered through semi-structured interviews with employers and employees. Ten managers of smaller firms responsible for recruiting 457 visa workers and 20 employees are interviewed.

Research findings

Smaller firms gained a short-term competitive advantage from employing 457 visa workers. ‘Fit’ was an important criteria when recruiting and selecting workers and different methods were used to assess this whether the worker was on or off-shore when recruited.

Considerable costs were involved in these workers recruitment, selection and on-going employment. These workers filled skills gaps in the smaller firm’s workforce at a cost but gave the firm a short-term advantage.

If you would like further information download a copy of the final report, or to discuss the research, please contact the researchers.


Funding body

  • ECU, Faculty of Business and Law, Strategic Research Fund.


October 2012 - October 2013.

This project is a sub-project of The requirements of innovative practices in the WA resources sector.

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