The Australian government has announced it will pilot a new visa scheme this year to help companies lure skilled technology workers to Australia.
The ‘global talent scheme’ will be trialled from 1 July 2018.
It will allow established businesses with more than $4 million in annual turnover to sponsor a “highly skilled and experienced” individual for a role paying more than $180,000 into Australia. The Global Talent Stream will give businesses flexibility in certain visa criteria, including access to 4 year TSS visas and age concessions.
Employers will however need to show that their existing Australian workers will benefit – via “skills transfer” – as a result of the individual being granted a visa, the Government said. The sponsoring organisation will also need to prove they have a track record of hiring and training locally.
Technology and STEM-based start-ups will also be given the ability to sponsor “experienced” international workers with “specialised technology skills”. Start-ups will need to be recognised by a start-up authority, and similarly show that they prioritise hiring of Australians.
The visa on offer will be a 4-year visa within the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) Visa Programme which came into effect on 18 March 2018. Under the pilot, it will give visa holders a pathway to permanent residency after three years. The Government said it would pilot the new visa for 12 months.
“We want to ensure that Australian businesses can access the best talent in the world, because this will underpin business growth, skills transfer and job creation,” citizenship and multicultural affairs minister Alan Tudge said in a statement.
“At all stages, Australians are prioritised for the jobs, but where the skills and experience are not available here, we want to be able to attract talent from overseas.”
Established Business Stream – Criteria to be Met
- Demonstration that recruitment policy gives first preference to Australian workers. Relevant
considerations to include: percentage of workforce that is Australian and training of Australians.
- Labour market testing for the specific position.
- The business must be a good corporate citizen with no breaches of workplace or immigration
law. Employees paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table that
reflects current market salary rates for all occupations in the business.
- Must be publicly listed or have an annual turnover of at least $4 million for each of the past
Established businesses can access up to 20 positions per year (applicant and position criteria must be satisfied on each occasion).
- Operates in STEM-related field (eg digital, biomedical, agtech).
- Demonstration that recruitment policy gives first preference to Australian workers.
- Labour market testing for the specific position.
- The business must be a good corporate citizen with no breaches of workplace or immigration law. Employees paid in accordance with an Enterprise Agreement or internal salary table that reflects current market salary rates (this can include equity) for all occupations in the business.
- A ‘start-up authority’ (entities for this role to be decided in consultation with industry) will endorse the business.
- Financial criteria to be determined in consultation with stakeholders (examples could be a working capital or capital raised threshold).
The pilot follows industry criticism of the country’s skilled migration scheme and a warning by Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes that the scheme was not equipped to deal with the “massive job disruption” Australia is facing from the advent of automation.
Cannon-Brookes has long been a critic of the government’s skilled migration regime, which he claims has made it more expensive and difficult to lure talent to Australia.
He claimed the government’s recent 457 visa changes had “directly” hurt Atlassian, “damaged Australia’s reputation in the largest industry in the world”, and may force the company to move its headquarters overseas.
The government initially cut a number of technology roles from the list of eligible occupations, but later revised the list.
However the likes of Cannon-Brookes and Google remain critical of the changes.
“Business-critical skills have been excluded from the longer term visa categories that are necessary to attract workers with the knowledge and experience required to train younger Australian employees,” Google said in January.
“Examples include product managers, who need high level software engineering, project management and people leadership skills; user experience (UX) specialists, whose sub disciplines are covered by a number of Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) codes; and technical solutions and systems administrators proficient in Google’s proprietary products and systems.”
Cannon-Brookes last week argued at a Senate Committee Hearing that the revised lists didn’t “make a lot of sense”.
“On the long-term list is horse trainer; ICT manager is not on the long term list. Do we really need more horse trainers?” he said.
“The lack of access to talent is the single biggest factor draining the growth of the tech industry in Australia.”
He claimed the message Australia was broadcasting to the global technology industry was: “we are fundamentally closed for business”.