Monday, 03 July 2017 10:09

More focus on tech skills needed on visa occupations update: StartupAUS Featured

StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley

The Turnbull Government has updated the occupations lists — including for chief information officers and chief executive — for a range of temporary and permanent skilled visas, but StartupAUS says there is still significant work to be done in bringing the skills list into line with the current needs of young tech companies in Australia.

According to the CEO of StartupAUS — Australia's peak advocacy group for start-ups — Alex McCauley, the listing of CIO and CEO positions are key for emerging high-growth businesses and the ability to hire executives to fill these roles from a global pool of talent is critical to the success of the sector.

But he says a range of cutting edge digital and technology skills are not included in the list despite extensive input by the sector to the government’s consultation process.  

“Also unaddressed is the fact that salary minimums currently don’t take into account equity, limiting access by start-ups to the visa regime.”

Just last May StartupAUS said start-ups had “dropped off the radar” in the federal budget and the government has a lot to do to deliver on commitments to make Australia “one of the best countries in the world for innovators”.

McCauley said in May that innovation and entrepreneurship were not major focal points of the budget and “there clearly isn't a focus on start-ups or innovation in this budget”.

“That will certainly cause some frustration, because the government has done a lot to build expectations that it is committed to making Australia one of the best countries in the world for innovators. It still has a lot of work to do to deliver on that commitment.”

The updated occupations list, which came into force on 1 July, has been introduced by the federal government with the aim of ensuring the lists continue to reflect genuine skill needs in the labour market.

As part of its reforms to skilled migration announced in April, the government says it will update the lists on a six monthly basis to ensure the best outcomes for Australian workers and employers alike.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the changes to the lists protected Australian workers, while allowing employers to recruit overseas workers in occupations which are known to be in high demand and face skills shortages in the Australian labour market.

“The government recognises the importance of enabling Australian businesses to tap into global talent to remain internationally competitive and support a strong national science and innovation agenda,” he said.   

“The occupation lists are designed to be dynamic. Revisions to the occupation lists are just one element of the Government’s reforms strengthening the integrity of Australia’s employer sponsored skilled migration programmes and raising the productivity of skilled migrants.”

Under the change to the occupations lists, all visa applicants are now required to undergo mandatory criminal checks as part of their application and the exemption to English language testing for subclass 457 visa applicants whose salary is over $96,400 has been removed, with the exception of employees transferring between a foreign parent company to an Australian arm of the company.

From 1 July, all permanent skilled visas have tightened English language and lower maximum age requirements and additional measures will also be introduced to improve the integrity of permanent employer-sponsored visas, including removal of some exemptions to mandatory skills and English language testing.

Full implementation of the Temporary Skills Shortage visa will be complete by March next year.

The TSS visa will include increased English language requirements, stricter labour market testing and a test to ensure employers are not discriminating against Australian workers.

From March next year, employers nominating a worker for a TSS visa will be required to pay a contribution to the Skilling Australians Fund to support additional education and training for Australian workers. And employers must continue to show they are making every effort to employ and train Australians in their businesses.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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