The country needs an army of skilled expats and should be more actively recruiting from overseas, according to recruitment experts. There are calls for restrictions to be eased to allow more visas to be granted.
Australia is facing a critical IT skills shortage in some areas and locations, according to Richard Fischer, managing director of IT recruiter Greythorn Australia.
Australia’s largest IT and technology recruiter, Peoplebank, has an agreement with the federal government that allows them to recruit 150 to 200 overseas nationals annually and has increased its intake of overseas IT professionals by about 20 to 30% in the past six months.
But it is not enough. Peoplebank acting chief executive Jeff Knowles said the company will ask for a further increase on that number and predicts a skills shortage by the middle of this year in New South Wales, Victoria and Canberra if more workers cannot be found.
In Sydney there had been an increase of about 30% in demand in the first three months of the year compared with the same period in 2009 with demand driven by large projects in banking, finance and utilities.
‘Every month there is an increase in opportunities that are available, so therefore there is the same increase in the need for skilled people from overseas. There is a recognition that certain skill sets just can’t be found in Australia. For example, there are certain SAP projects that have just never been done before in Australia. So they are coming out of Europe,’ explained Knowles.
Recruiters are finding it difficult to find technical specialist people like Java developers, .NET developers, those with a specialisation in visualisation storage, voice and data, and SAP.
The new Skilled Occupation List just released by the Australian government has a fewer number of occupations on it but new IT skills have been added. Jobs such as analyst programmer and systems analyst have remained on the list, while ICT business analyst, developer programmer and software engineer have been added.
A number of telecommunications specific occupations have also found their way onto to the list and appear to directly target the Federal Government’s roll-out of the National Broadband Network.
These roles include telecommunications engineer, telecommunications network engineer, telecommunications field engineer and telecommunications network planner Australian immigration figures show 1500 computing professionals were granted 457 visas in the year to February 28, down from 2810 in the year to February 28 last year. Computing professional was ranked second out of the top 15 occupations for primary applications granted in the year to the end of February, down from number one the previous year.