14 April 2009

Despite restrictions on emigrating to Australia, IT workers needed for expansion

While programs for emigrating to Australia are being reduced to help the economy during the financial downturn, IT companies are hoping that such moves would not affect their plans for expansion and hinder the numbers of IT professionals from emigrating to Australia.

IT professionals emigrating to Australia can choose a number of avenues in the Skill Stream of the Migration Program, including General Skilled Migration (GSM), (a program in which independent skilled workers can apply for a temporary, provisional or permanent Australian visa), the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS), Business Skills or the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS). 

Earlier this year, the Australian Government cutback its record Migration Program so that fewer Australian skilled visas would be granted during the economic downturn (133,000 places down to 115,000), and introduced a Critical Skills List (CSL) to direct immigration officers as to which Australian visa applications should be prioritised for processing, known as the priority processing order

While IT occupations have remained on the CSL, meaning some IT professionals would have their Australian visa application fast-tracked for processing, IT companies are still worried that Australian visa restrictions would hamper their plans for expansion.

"It is a problem as visas are restricted.  We will have to prove that the professionals we are hiring will be productive for the Australian economy," said Manoj Nagpaul, general manager of Australian department of Wipro.

"We are expanding in terms of increasing people and opening new operations."

According to NDTV, Indian IT companies based in Australia are looking to expand by sourcing workers through the Australian skilled visa program, even if it results in more expenditure being spent on foreign labour hire.

"We are expanding and are even looking at increasing workforce," said Varun Kapur, general manager of TCS (Australia).

According to The Australian, the Government has been pressured by Bob Kinnaird, an Australian demographer, to remove IT occupations from the CSL because foreign IT workers are causing unnecessary competition in the job market for Australian IT graduates and local IT workers.

Further, Mr Kinnaird has been pushing for changes to the ENS avenue for emigrating to Australia because he feels that it makes it harder to protect local Australian workers from having job opportunities taken by foreign workers.

"The employer-sponsored permanent residency visas should be made subject to a labour market test, and employers should have to prove there are no Australian IT workers available to do the work at market rates of pay," he added.

The Government has not indicated whether it would make any further changes to the planning levels for the Skilled Migration Program until the release of the 2009-10 Budget.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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