Industry kerfuffle over visa IT jobs shuffle in Australia

ITPA challenges the Government's skilled visa changes.

By Hafizah Osman
July 11, 2017

“If local IT graduates are unable to find work in the IT industry, a reality which is currently at endemic proportions, then the next generations of students will not bother to study information technology and pursue careers in this industry,” Hudson added.

As a result, he suggested that the government introduce policy that encourages the industry to employ local IT graduates and helps to fund a tertiary education sector which produces graduates with the skills that are in demand from the industry today and in the future.

He added that without significant change to the current system, even in its refreshed format, there will not be a workforce being created locally, eventually resulting in lost wages, income tax and retail spending.

“Does the Government really want to ensure that in the future all IT workers in Australia will be brought in from overseas? If employers can simply get experienced workers from overseas who are willing to work for less than a fair wage that would reasonably be expected for entry IT support work, no matter how work-ready they are, local graduates are never going to be able compete for employment,” he said.

However, the Federal Government has already made significant strides towards supporting and promoting the development of home-grown skills. 

On 9 May, in an address of the 2017 Federal Budget, Australian Treasurer, Scott Morrison, introduced the skilled migration levy for the skilled worker visas in question, with the resulting funds raised from the levy set to be prioritised towards apprenticeships and traineeships in occupations in high demand that currently rely on skilled migration.

The move which could see some organisations faced with an annual levy charge of up to $5000 for some workers. Specifically, the new measures are an annual foreign worker levy of $1,200 or $1,800 per worker per year on temporary work visas and a $3,000 or $5,000 one-off levy for those on a permanent skilled visa.

The government previously said that it aims to raise $1.2 billion from this levy over the next four years, in a bid to contribute directly to a new 'Commonwealth-State Skilling Australians Fund'.

Morrison said at the time that Australia's states and territories will only be able to draw on this fund when they deliver on their commitments to train new apprentices, locally.

“Skilled migration has always played a significant role in driving our economic growth. But it must be on our terms and we must skill more Australians to secure jobs,” he said previously.

It should also be noted that the initial changes to the skilled visa program, and the resulting scrapping of the 457 visa class was aimed squarely at prioritising Australian workers and Australian jobs.

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