With 457 work visas coming under scrutiny as a result of recent terrorist bombings in the UK and an acute skills shortage continuing to worsen in Australia's ICT industry, a national skills summit will be held from August 27-28, 2007.
Speakers at the 3rd Annual Skilling Australia Summit next month includes the Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews and the Minister for Vocational Education, Andrew Robb.
The current skills crisis has led to an increase in poaching, a hesitancy to tender and project delays, all of which are a drag on economic growth.
Even the 457 work visa program is under question for security reasons and delegates at the summit will examine ways to resolve the impasse.
It will bring together leading industry experts and policymakers to examine the big issues, share ideas and experiences and put forward solutions.
Other participants include the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, Peter Hendy, Engineers Australia CEO, Peter Taylor, and the UK Department of Education and Skills, Tim Down.
Topics will range from skilling for a boom economy to the ageing workforce
To be held in Melbourne, full details of the summit are available at www.informa.com.au/skillingaustralia
To March 31, 2007, the Department of Immigration has issued a record number of 457 visas for IT professionals.
Immigration Minister, Kevin Andrews, said 4290 visas were granted to IT firms in the last nine months, which is more than the entire previous financial year.
During the previous 12 months a total of 4190 visas were issued.
"If the department continues to approve applications for 457 visas at current rates, the number of IT professionals using the scheme will jump 35 percent this year," Andrews said.
Earlier this year Andrews announced an additional 5000 places to the Skilled Migration Stream, bringing the total 2007/08 quota to 102,500 places.
"Like many developed countries, Australia is experiencing labor shortages in highly skilled job sectors," he said.
Australia's mining boom has contributed to a surge in visa numbers and as a result the number of engineers migrating here has doubled in the past year.
An estimated 3940 computing professionals migrated last year.
The federal government's migration program is running at record levels bringing in 142,930 people for the 2005/06 year, the largest intake since the late 1980s.