The Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) has weighed in on the government’s new pilot visa scheme, saying it’s concerned that there is “very little detail” on how the applications will be checked and the rules enforced.
On March 19, the government said it would commence a trial to make it easier for big business and tech startups to hire overseas talent for highly skilled roles. The Global Talent Scheme has two streams: one for established businesses with an annual turnover of more than $4 million and another aimed at technology-based and STEM-related startup businesses.
ITPA president Robert Hudson said on Thursday that there does need to be a voice for experienced industry professionals who are involved in the process of reviewing applications because, at present, it is too easy to circumnavigate the stated requirements.
“We will be watching with interest to see who makes up the ‘industry advisory group’ being assembled to provide ongoing guidance for the pilot. This body needs to be independent and impartial with representation from IT professionals,” Hudson said.
Hudson said that without seeing the details of requirements would be enforced, it is hard to comment on the scheme as a whole.
“As a general principle, ITPA has no problem with importing high-end talent to bolster existing workforce availability where genuine skills shortages exist. Australia’s IT industry has always seen skilled migrants brought in to supplement local shortages and to some extent, this is still needed to keep growing,” he said.
But the ITPA’s support for skilled visa program stops with current practices that seem to facilitate recruitment to lower end roles which could easily be filled by local graduates after some basic induction training, Hudson said.
“Too often, we see attempts by larger IT services and solutions integration organisations to deflect to the importation of niche proprietary skills that are already in existence elsewhere in the world at a lower cost,” said Hudson.
“What we would like to see from government are positive solutions that deliver ongoing secure, full time work for Australian IT professionals of all ages and experience.”
Hudson said that there needs to be more accessible incentives for employers of IT professionals to train and employ locals, independent oversight from regulatory bodies to ensure tech companies are doing the right thing, as well as penalties for organisations that are caught flouting the rules.
“We need a government that facilitates genuine career development opportunities through encouraging in-demand and industry training at tertiary institutions and internships for undergraduate students as well as graduate year and mentoring programs when they complete their degrees,” he said.
Finally, Hudson said if there is a genuine lack of local workers with the required skills, the ITPA would support allowing foreign workers to be brought in under equivalent conditions to what would be required to hire a local resource.
“What we do not want to see is skilled workers from lower cost geographies moved to Australia at the lower-cost geography wages,” Hudson said.
“That is, we don’t want to see skilled worker visas used as a cost reduction tool where lower cost migrants are parachuted into roles that will displace local graduates and professionals perfectly capable of doing the job or that can be quickly brought up to capability with a little training.”
Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter: @ByronConnolly