With Australia’s IT sector experiencing a major skills shortage, the government’s new ‘Global Talent Scheme’ (a pilot visa scheme launched on 1 July 2018 designed to attract more highly-skilled international talent to Australia) is being praised by IT and technology employers struggling to fill roles. An independent survey commissioned by specialised recruitment company Robert Half reveals the vast majority (93 per cent) of CIOs believe the new visa scheme will have a positive impact on Australia’s IT employment market.
As the visa scheme is designed to attract more highly-skilled international talent with a view to transferring valuable skills to existing Australian workers, the majority of IT leaders expect the Global Talent Scheme to offer a viable solution to the IT skills deficit. Over half (58 per cent) say the new scheme will increase the demand for international IT professionals, while 56 per cent believe it will succeed in reducing the IT skills shortage in Australia. Other expected benefits of the scheme include increased productivity (56 per cent) and an increase in average salaries for skilled IT talent (38 per cent). Only 7 per cent of IT employers believe it will not impact the IT employment market.
As business growth and innovation are constrained due to skills shortages, the war for talent is putting increasing pressure on Australian companies to consider recruiting overseas talent. Compared to five years ago, a majority (86 per cent) of CIOs say it’s now more challenging to source qualified IT professionals, while 87 per cent report it be more challenging to attract them to work for their organisation.
Australian IT employers would consider turning to international talent for a range of technology roles with the top five functional areas being IT security (51 per cent), IT management (48 per cent), business analysis (45 per cent), networking (44 per cent) and database management (43 per cent).
David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “As the technology sector continues to evolve at a rapid pace, demand for the necessary skills continues to outpace supply in the local market. Unless we can access more talent – whether local or international – more easily, Australia’s business sector is at risk of being left behind in the global technology race.
“The Global Talent Scheme is a welcome initiative for IT employers, enabling them easier access to top international talent, allowing them to become better equipped to innovate with new technologies and compete on a global stage,” Jones added, “and that, undoubtedly, will be a catalyst for faster business growth.”
While the government’s new visa scheme is aiming to make it easier for employers to hire overseas talent, local companies also recognise the importance of incentivising career transfers to Australian shores. The top five incentives Australian IT employers are using to attract international talent are financial relocation packages (64 per cent), family benefits (61 per cent), lifestyle benefits (58 per cent), increased salary (51 per cent) and housing subsidies (50 per cent).
“In a competitive market, it can be equally challenging to attract the right talent once they’ve been identified – wherever they are in the world. As more companies compete for the best international talent, companies need to offer tailored incentives. Focusing on salary is important, but it’s equally crucial for companies to ensure their incentives are up-to-date and in line with competitor offerings and industry standards,” said Jones. “However, attracting overseas talent is just one part of an all-encompassing approach needed to help ease Australia’s IT skills shortage. The business community, together with education providers and the government need to further grow the influx of local talent and develop the skills of existing IT staff to confront new technologies, systems and processes head on. This will not only boost internal company innovation and growth, but also the quality of the local talent pool.”
In the interim, a short-term solution recognised by Australian IT employers is to hire contract and temporary IT professionals. In fact, almost eight in 10 (78 per cent) CIOs agree contract workers provide a viable solution to Australia’s IT skills shortage.
“A flexible mix of temporary and permanent workers gives companies access to a much larger talent pool, especially for IT workers. Contract and temporary workers have the advantage of guaranteeing business continuity, upskill existing staff and optimising staffing cost-efficiencies,” concluded David Jones.