Victorian minister for small business, innovation, and trade, Philip Dalidakis, has called for an increase in 457 visas within the technology sector.
Dalidakis was speaking at the recent ACS Ministerial and Tech Leaders Forum in Sydney, where he addressed this as a solution to the skilled shortage in tech.
“In the tech sector, over the last 10 years, we’ve been seeing declining numbers of ICT grads," he said.
"We need to do something to reverse that trend but in the meantime, we need to attract talent here.
"I’m not fearful of allowing people to come into our country with skill sets that we don’t necessarily have within the tech sector."
This results in one of two things happening, according to Dalidakis – knowledge transfer between the people that come to Australia and the locals and them staying here.
“I don’t think it’s a lose-lose proposition," Dalidakis added.
"It’s something I’d like to see us work with other jurisdictions on to ensure that we work on something that’s important to us and we need to work on it as best as we can."
In the last 12 months, the Victorian Government funded nearly half a million dollars to Deakin University for the creation of a new masters of cyber security programme.
In which La Trobe University also followed suit, funded by Optus.
“We’re also looking at tapping into high schools and running a few pilot programs into coding," Dalidakis added.
"If this is successful, my desire is to convince the minister of education in Victoria that we run it backwards into primary schools.
"We need to be able to equip our students today so that they have the flexibility in their careers tomorrow. We will continue to invest into education, invest into industry, and do everything we can across the data and cyber security industry."
Dalidakis also spoke about building on the organic growth of Victoria within the cyber security sphere.
In the last 12 to 15 months, it forged alliances with the nbn and Data 61 in building the national cyber operations in Melbourne. It also created the Oceania cyber security centre.
“Whilst we’re trying to build the cyber industry in Victoria aggressively, cyber does not respect borders or boundaries," Dalidakis added.
"We need to be building something that is agile, and able to respond within the marketplace in a way that respects the new world order that we operate in."
Dalidakis also said this will boost Australia’s digital economy.
“Right now, Australia’s digital economy is about $78 billion – it’s about 5.1 per cent of our GDP," he said.
"That’s expected to grow to about $139 billion or 7.3 per cent GDP by 2020.
"Now, if people don’t have confidence and trust to trade, to buy or to sell or undertake an e-commerce world, that’s one of the quickest ways to ensure that society starts to regress instead of progress. From an industry perspective, it’s our role to support these sectors."
According to Dalidakis, Australia should follow the footsteps of Israel.
“If you look at the growth of cyber security as a subset within ICT, it’s valued at about $US71 billion, growing at about 10 per cent per annum, and if you look at what Israel did over the past few months, they were able to export $6 billion worth of cyber security product, that’s excluding defense procurement," he said.
"If Victoria, over a period of time, can take what we have as a discreet base in cyber security and build it, the benefits from a societal perspective will be immense in terms of supporting industry growth and jobs."
Dalidakis is also confident that in the next five to 10 years, Victoria could be one of the top five data security R&D centers.
“But it will take a continued commitment by the government in terms of investment and attraction to different companies to make sure that we get there,” he concluded.