The tech industry in Australia is facing a skills crisis that is putting at risk the aspiration of having 1.2 million tech jobs in the country by 2030. With significant skills in demand across a range of areas such as cybersecurity, data and artificial intelligence, companies have been clamoring for a solution.
Australia’s new Migration Strategy aims to address some of these issues. With new measures, including the introduction of a new Specialized Skills Pathway for highly skilled workers, there is now hope that a “broken” system can be fixed to support the growth of the local tech sector.
Australia to fix ‘broken’ immigration system to spur ‘nation building’
Australia published its new Migration Strategy in December 2023. This followed a Review of the Migration System by Martin Parkinson, chancellor of Macquarie University, which called the system “so badly broken” that a “10-year rebuild” would be needed. years” so that he could recover. work for businesses, workers and Australians.
The Government’s new Migration Strategy aims to solve these problems, promising the “biggest migration reforms in a generation”. With the desire to reorient the system towards “nation building”, the objectives of the Migration Strategy include supporting productivity, innovation and success in a digital economy.
Opening the door to hiring more qualified global technology workers
For Australia’s tech industry, the biggest win in the new Migration Strategy is a shift in focus towards bringing skilled workers into skills shortage areas. This is a change from the previous period, when it was aimed at international students and less skilled workers.
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This change will allow tech companies and other businesses hungry for tech skills to tap into a global talent pool of tech workers using newly created skills pathways and visas. More simplified labor market testing will also be necessary before hiring workers abroad.
The path of specialized skills and faster processing times is a victory for technology
A specialist skills pathway will be an option created within a new Skills in Demand visa. Designed to “drive innovation and job creation”, it will enable the hiring of highly skilled technology and other workers earning more than A$135,000 (US$91,692) in Australia.
A key aspect of the visa system review is a commitment to establish a best practice service level agreement for visa processing times, reducing Australia’s notoriously long waits. For Special Skills Pathway visas, processing will be expedited within seven days.
New visas to address skills shortages in technology and other industries
The Skills in Demand visa will firmly direct Australia’s temporary skilled migration program towards meeting national and industry skills needs. This will mean bringing in skilled workers from overseas markets in areas where Australia has identified skills shortages.
New aspects of this temporary four-year visa will include giving workers more opportunities to move between employers and industries rather than being tied to the sponsorship of a single employer. It will also provide clear pathways to permanent residency for those who wish to pursue them.
For example, a software engineer, which is the most common occupation on the current temporary skills shortage visa, could move between employers and change industries such as transport and logistics or financial services while still having a residency pathway. permanent.
What has been the response from Australia’s tech sector so far?
The Australian immigration strategy has been well received by the technology sector. According to the Technology Council of Australia, Australia’s peak technology industry body, it can be seen as a major reform that will make Australia a globally competitive destination for skilled workers.
Helping Australia compete for tech skills
The Specialist Skills Pathway’s seven-day service standard for processing applications and the pathway to permanent residency puts Australia on par with economies such as Canada and the United Kingdom. Both countries process applications in 5 to 10 days and have clear permanent residency routes.
This will make it easier for Australia to attract top-tier technology talent from the global talent pool. Australia was previously considered to be at a disadvantage, with long visa processing times and no possibility of achieving permanent residency except through sponsorship from a single employer.
Supporting the growth of local businesses
The injection of more skilled tech workers from global markets is expected to have positive effects on the ability of local tech companies and companies that hire tech workers to innovate and grow. This could further contribute to global success and create more jobs and growth in Australia.
Help tech workers learn and develop
Highly skilled tech workers hired on Skills in Demand visas will help train local workers to build careers in the tech sector. Current government targets mean around 160,000 young Australians will need to train for tech jobs by 2030.
The Technology Council said experienced workers will help local tech workers learn and develop. The TCA said studies show that exposing young workers to experienced talent leads to a 2.5% increase in their annual productivity. This shows how on-the-job learning from trained mentors could improve individual skills and create more efficiency and capacity in the technology market.
Fill skills gaps in high shortage areas
Australia is experiencing a severe skills shortage in areas such as cybersecurity, data analytics, artificial intelligence and many other technology disciplines. The immigration changes will mean employers could have a new way to fill skills gaps for professionals in these areas when they are paid more than AUD$135,000 (USD$91,692).
Turning tech startups into visa sponsors
Startups that have received backing from a venture capital fund may be part of the accredited sponsor program. This will mean they will be able to sponsor international workers to work with their companies in the local market, easing current recruitment challenges.
Potential impact in 2024 and beyond for Australian tech jobs
The Australian Federal Government has proposed a three-phase approach to introducing changes. This will involve accelerating some existing migration commitments, developing and implementing some new commitments by the end of 2024, and consulting on others throughout 2024.
Skills in Demand visas and faster service levels expected by the end of 2024
The measures the tech sector would most like to see are likely to be introduced by the end of 2024. For example, the government has said that the full mobility visa for Skills in Demand workers, as well as the specific Specialist Skills Pathway, will be introduced at the end of 2024.
Migrants to help Australia with technological and digital transformation
The government said in its migration strategy that emerging technologies are transforming workplaces, industries and economies, with the potential to lead to greater workplace safety, better product quality and new markets. He added that rising living standards and future job prospects will depend on Australia’s ability to seize opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.
SEE: Australia needs to address these IT challenges to leverage AI in 2024.
“The government has set an ambitious target of 1.2 million technology-related jobs by 2030,” the migration strategy states. “We are focused on training more Australians to work in the technology sector, but highly skilled and experienced immigrants can help upskill and train our workforce to achieve this goal.”