Companies will struggle to staff large projects like the National Broadband Network (NBN) without importing workers on 457 visas, a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has heard.
"The size and nature of the NBN rollout means it does create some challenges," Australian Industry Group NSW director Mark Goodsell told a NSW parliamentary inquiry into skill shortages.
"457 visas and skilled immigration is a really important part of the mix... but it's not a substitute for the nation having a very good skills strategy.
"Skilled migration is sort of the balancing item. It's the tap you can turn on with reliable quality fairly quickly."
What AIG believes Australia needs to meet long-term labor shortages is well resourced vocational education programs at schools and TAFEs across NSW.
"[Skilled migrants] aren't a substitute for domestic training," Goodsell said.
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a crackdown earlier in the year on alleged rorts of the 457 visa following pressure from unions.
The controversial measures passed parliament in June, requiring employers to prove they searched for Australian staff before hiring temporary workers from overseas on 457 visas.