Telco giant, Telstra, has warned politicians against cutting skilled migration levels and claimed they are vital for the entire ICT industry.
Both the Coalition and the Government have emphasised a reduction in migration levels in an effort to boost popular support.
Opposition leader, Tony Abbott, recently promised to bring migrant intake levels down to 170,000 per year if elected and analyst firm, BIS Shrapnel, predicts the Government is on track to cut them to 145,000 by 2011-2012
Telstra group managing director, Deena Shiff, told a CEDA event in Sydney that she did not think either of the major parties had discussed reducing skilled migration levels.
She said low levels of local ICT training meant the whole industry depended on them.
“Human capital is the critical success factor in any successful technology society,” Shiff said. “This will decide if are a society of content consumers or content creators… there's a shortage of ICT workers in Australia of more than 10,000 and that's after accounting for skilled migration of 13,000 workers.
“ICT students make up only 5.3 per cent of the student population,” she said. “All of my customers would be incredibly worried if [the parties thought about cutting skilled migration levels]. Clearly the whole sector depends on skilled migration, both in ICT and engineering.”