Australia is at risk of missing out on a golden opportunity to boost its tech economy, according to the world’s largest job site.
Indeed’s global senior vice-president, Paul D’Arcy, said proposed visa changes and a lurch towards protectionism would send the world’s best talent elsewhere.
Mr D’Arcy, a former Apple and Dell executive, said the great economies of the next century would be built around talent that could drive innovation, ideas and creative business models.
“The countries that are able to attract talent from all over the world and be a destination for talent will have a competitive advantage,” Mr D’Arcy told The Australian.
“There is an opportunity right now because so many other countries that Australia competes with for talent are actively creating uncertainty. In the US, there is uncertainty around migration and borders, as with Europe and the UK with Brexit.
“There is a moment of opportunity for Australia right now to be a safe destination for the smartest people to settle, to optimise their lives for happiness and opportunity and bring innovation to Australia.”
The Turnbull government recently announced plans to scrap the existing 457 visa program for the new visa program that would include stricter requirements around work experience, English language proficiency and labour market testing.
According to the latest finding from Indeed’s global tech talent analysis, there has been a 30 per cent increase in the number of overseas jobseekers looking for roles in Australia compared to the same period last year, However, the report warns that the talent is unlikely to be available to Australian businesses in six or 12 months.
“Australia needs to weigh up whether it’s better for the economy to let these workers come in or to keep them out,” Mr D’Arcy said.
“When we look at where we are in the world, it used to be jobs were where natural resources were, then where the companies were, the factories or headquarters. And today, jobs are where the talent wants to live.
“Australia is, in the modern era, setting in all three of these in a really material way. Right now, if Atlassian wants to hire software engineers and they need to grow, they’ll hire them wherever they want to work.”
Indeed’s research also found that there is demand for 137 different specialist IT roles in Australia and for 100 of those roles, interest from overseas-based jobseekers outweighed local interest.
For the top 30 roles, foreign interest was three to 10 times higher than local interest.
The top 10 roles that foreigners are most interested in Australia are senior operations engineer, senior tester, senior automation engineer, entry-level architect, senior Java developer, exchange engineer, virtualisation engineer, senior quality assurance engineer, senior software engineer and PHP engineer.
“We have companies crying out for senior tech talent that can mentor local staff but we are in danger of losing IT specialists to other countries by sending an unwelcome message, Mr D’Arcy said. “The harder it is to hire software engineers the harder it is for a start-up to get off the ground, or a mid-sized company to become a big company.
“You have Amazon coming into Australia; retailers need to have greatly increased technical talent to compete and defend their businesses let alone expand and innovate.
“Over the next few decades we predict a tremendous shortage of knowledge jobs and a surplus for jobs that are likely to be automated.’’
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