Industry kerfuffle over visa IT jobs shuffle in Australia

ITPA challenges the Government's skilled visa changes.

By Hafizah Osman
July 11, 2017


The Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA) has taken exception to the Government's latest changes to its new skilled migrant visa program.

The Federal Government recently tinkered with its skilled migration visa policy, amending the list of approved occupations for its new class of visas in a bid to include a greater showing for the tech sector.

However, ITPA president, Robert Hudson, believes the latest policy shuffle is not a satisfactory response to the number of workers from overseas that are being bought in to fill low level IT jobs in Australia.

With adjustments to the skilled migrant worker visa program including the discontinuation of the 457 visa class – which is widely used by tech companies to find workers for hard-to-fill roles – and replacing it with two categories of skilled worker immigration visas.

The two new options include a two-year visa with no opportunity to apply for permanent residency and a longer four-year visa, which does allow are permanent residency pathway. 

Hudson claimed that the new changes are still not addressing one of the biggest problems in the local tech industry.

“Many categories for IT workers have been slotted into one or the other but it is not solving one of the biggest problems faced by local IT Professionals, and that is the ability to get a start in the industry,” he mentioned.

In addition, he said that the recent shuffling of a few categories from one section to the other, in response to industry lobbying, means that effectively, there is no significant change to the system.

“Small, medium and large employers of IT staff are still able to access overseas labour, even low-level IT jobs, and save money on wages,” he said.

“Traditional entry level positions such as IT support, systems administration and software and system testing are still easily filled by international workers, many of whom are prepared to work for lower than market rate wages.

“Is the government seriously telling us that Australia companies are unable to find anyone in Australia capable of filling roles such as ICT customer support officers or software testers?” he said.

According to Hudson, level one ICT support positions are often the key starting points for tertiary-educated IT graduates to begin their careers as industry professionals, and by allowing these roles to be filled by international workers, he claimed that the industry is effectively denying local graduates from getting a start in the industry.

“That is why we find so many IT graduates are unemployed or working in other industries," he said. "There are just too few jobs of this nature being offered to graduates, yet people are being brought in from overseas to do the work.

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