Visa enhancements, training needed to fix tech staff issues

Separately, the Australian Workers Union has proposed that employers must train one Australian worker for every skilled migrant they accept.

The Tech Council estimates that the Australian tech industry contributes $40 million to the Skilling Australians Fund levy, which was set up to ensure that companies employing immigrants also fund apprenticeships and internships.

The proposed new digital apprenticeship program would be funded through the Skilling Australians Fund to train workers in roles such as cyber security analyst, business analyst and data analyst.

The industry is also concerned that Australia is losing global talent to other countries as a result of the massive backlog of visa applications and slow processing times.

While not commenting on specific policy proposals, Mr. Farquhar supported the need to invest in local training, as well as the need to reform the visa system to keep students studying ICT degrees in Australia after graduation, instead of returning to their countries of origin.

“How do we get those people to stay in Australia and contribute to our economy instead of going home and contributing to their economies?”

On Tuesday, Atlassian announced that it will hire 1,032 research and development professionals over the next 12 months in Australia and New Zealand. The specific number is a nod to Atlassian’s past, when the fledgling company hired 32 engineers during the global financial crisis.

“Ahead of the jobs summit, we want to remind people that in this industry, this is a supply issue. There is a lot of demand for jobs here,” Farquhar said.

Part of the new cohort will be made up of 142 graduates starting in January 2023 and 152 interns. The company plans to double its trainee intake over the next year.

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Farquhar said Atlassian’s remote work policy would help it protect workers in Australia and in regional areas.

The Tech Council and ACTU have also applied for government funding to help women and underrepresented groups participate in tech jobs.

“We need to do a better job of training people, particularly outside of three-year and four-year college degrees,” Farquhar said.

“If we can’t find those people, what do we do about migration and bring some of these people in so that these jobs can happen in Australia, rather than overseas?”

The new wave of hiring coincides with a broader recession in the start-up technology sector, which has led to a large number of redundancies and hiring freezes at Australian companies.

While some tech chiefs have reported a loosening in the talent market, Farquhar said he hasn’t noticed a significant change in the competition for the best candidates.

“I would say it’s still a pretty competitive hiring market for tech professionals… maybe a little easier than it was,” Farquhar said.

“These jobs are always in demand, so if a startup doesn’t get financing and lays people off, those people won’t join the unemployment queue. Those people go straight to another job the next day.”