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Migrants with IT skills better off under changes to visa entry system

Migrants with IT skills better off under changes to visa entry system

Applicant IT skills requirements shrink from 14 specific skills to 5 generic areas including developers, programmers, software engineers, business and systems analysts

Industry bodies have praised changes to the visa system which will allow more migrants with IT skills to move to Australia.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said the changes, which are part of the new skilled occupations list, would allow industries to get the skilled workers they need.

Instead of basing an applicant’s skills on 14 specific computer occupations, the new list has job titles which are more generic. They include developers, programmers, software engineers, business and systems analysts. The changes are expected to be introduced in July.

“We intend to fundamentally change the way we target skilled migrants to restore integrity to the skilled migration program,” Senator Evans said.

Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) chairman, Ian Birks, said the Immigration Department had looked to greatly simplify the job codes on the old occupations in demand list which the skilled occupation list replaces.

“The key difference is previously they were being very specific, where they tended to say things like SAP specialist, whereas now they’re more generic,” he said. “It provides increased flexibility because it allows people looking to migrate and our members who are looking to hire people, to see them as more general skills-based rather than specific categories.”

“It’s not a major change in terms of the numbers of people that will come through the industry, but it means that we have an ability to characterise what we need in general terms.”

Birks said the IT industry was a major user of migration programs and it will help to depress the skills shortage.

Australian Computer Society (ACS) CEO, Bruce Lakin said it would be helpful to encourage some migration from international workers under the skilled categories to help expand the workforce.

“It’s a more efficient approach, they’re not looking at the immediate shortages today but what we require over the next three years,” Lakin said. “Strategically, that’s a good thing.”

Lakin was concerned about the 457 visa, which he said only satisfied the needs of particular sponsors. It was questionable over what it had done to advance the overall IT industry.

“One weakness of that [457 visa] is the judgement on what value those workers bring to the Australian economy,” he said. “Whereas the Skills List Occupation approach is an independent assessment of the skills based on industry-wide rather than sponsor specific requirements, arguably there’s a greater certainty of those skills being what the economy requires.”

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