Australian Information Industry Association chief executive Rob Fitzpatrick said on Wednesday that while ICT was the country's fastest growing sector, it was continuing to lose skilled workers to the global market.
Fitzpatrick pointed out that the ICT sector was growing at 2% while the workforce in the rest of the economy was increasing at a rate of 1.4% per annum.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced on Tuesday that 457 visas, introduced by John Howard in 1996, would be abolished and replaced by a new system that put "Australian jobs first".
“The AIIA is working with members, universities and government to address the skills gap and improve graduate outcomes to increase the number of locally qualified and trained ICT workers," he said.
"In the meantime, many of our member companies rely on the flow of skilled 457 visa migrants to meet short-term demands."
The Australian Computer Society welcomed the changes. ACS president Anthony Wong said, “Strengthening labour market testing was one of ACS’ key recommendations in our May 2014 submission to the Independent Review of Integrity in the subclass 457 programme. We are pleased to see this is a key focus in the prime minister’s announcement.
“While labour market testing and training benchmarks have previously existed in the 457 Visa framework, we see tightened criteria under as an important signal that the Turnbull Government understands the need to treat Australia’s human capital as a strategic asset as we expedite our transition to the digital and knowledge-based economies,” he said.
“Skilled migration in all its forms should be a source of competitive advantage for any country. It should never be at the expense of the domestic labour market and attracting full workforce participation.”