Gillard slams IT industry for 457 visa abuse

Gillard slams IT industry for 457 visa abuse

Summary: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called out the IT industry for overusing employer-sponsored visas to recruit foreign workers.

SHARE:

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said the IT industry in Australia is overusing the 457 visa to recruit foreign IT workers where the jobs could otherwise be taken up by Australian citizens.

In a speech to the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Community Summit in Canberra this morning, the prime minister said that the use of the visas to temporarily employ overseas workers was growing much faster than employment in Australia was growing — 20 percent year-on-year compared to 1 percent employment growth year-on-year.

The IT industry was the worst offender, Gillard said.

"Outside the resource states of Queensland and Western Australia, the single largest sector for temporary overseas work isn't mining — or even construction — it is information technology. One in twenty temporary overseas workers in Australia is doing IT work in New South Wales alone," she said.

"It is just not acceptable that information technology jobs, the quintessential jobs of the future, the very opportunities being created by the digital economy, precisely where the big picture is for our kids, should be such a big area of imported skills."

Gillard said that the IT industry brought in 5,800 temporary workers in just seven months, where there were just 4,500 Australian IT undergraduates in 2011.

"That in itself is evidence of a problem: the number of people coming here to fill short-term gaps should not be growing twenty times faster than employment overall," she said.

To scale back on this Gillard said the government would be making changes to the program, including requiring employers to demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage doesn't exist, ramping up the English language requirement for a number of positions, raising the market salary cap exemption from AU$180,000 to AU$250,000 and stopping employers who routinely abuse the 457 system.

"Naturally we will work with business to make sure genuine skill shortages can be addressed, but we will not allow Australian workers to be denied the opportunity to fill Australian jobs," Gillard said.

"If there are local workers — Australians in insecure work, unemployed Australians, young Australians — who can do these jobs then they should get that chance."

There has been much debate in Australia over the last year as to whether there is an IT skills shortage in the country. Westpac CIO Clive Whincup blamed the shortage for its need to outsource some jobs, but the Commonwealth Bank's CIO Michael Harte disagreed. ZDNet's CIO Jury also overwhelmingly said that the IT skills shortage was overblown.

In November last year, research firm IDC found that while the Asia-Pacific region was being hit with a skills shortage, Australia wasn't suffering as badly as the rest of the region.

Topics: Government, Government AU, IT Employment

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

7 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • too little too late

    They only shortage is a shortage of employers willing to pay market rates for skilled Australians. The 457 system had been abused for years and the damage has been done.
    BigScotty
    • Cost discrepancy

      Agreed, as a student I have been trying to contract part time. If been asking for $40 to $50 / hr, but miss out on opportunities as apparently "experienced" consultants from India or China only ask for $20 / hr...... that is for full time work $760 per week which barley covers rent and living cost. Australians cannot compete with this if they have to live of this with no other financial support.
      alice.jen
  • It's the Recruiters

    The recruitment industry doesn't care - it abuses the system to bring in cheap foreign labour in order to win more contracting positions.
    gr1f
  • Recruiters

    Most recruiters themselves are in Australia with 457's leaving cold London for sunny Sydney.
    Azizi Khan
  • Freeze 457 for 5 years

    Poor Aussies. How can you gain skills if you're never given an opportunity to learn and work in that area - Aussies are smart people and have the capability to work any area hence don't need 457 visa. There was never an IT skills shortage in Australia. But if there was some, the skill migration visa was enough entry to bring in skill workers. 457 should be amended and freezed for the next 5 years at least.
    Vili-e0656
  • Kill off 457s

    I think it is a great idea to kill off 457s. Right now employers like Westpac, CommBank and Federal Government bring in professionals from overseas and still pay them in Australian dollar. Killing off 457s will push all the development jobs overseas. It would be far cheaper to hire a few PMs to manage the project then have a whole gaggle of Aussie workers bring "trained" locally.

    The fact that a lot of these jokers think that they deserve to be trained is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind giving a 3 month training to a fresh grad but definitely not someone who has some level of experience in IT. I expect them to come into the job and start performing. I have no time or inclination to "train" on the job.

    It is far more cost effective for me to send the whole project overseas. Besides countries like Singapore, Malaysia and India actually provide incentives for tech companies to base there and the average qualification in India for IT is a Masters.

    One can them simply run a sales office locally and be extremely profitable. This is the age of social, mobile and cloud - and I don't think employers are going to sit down and listen to ex-IT employees go on like a bunch of whiny little girls. Its all about cost and output. So I am definitely with Gillard, the faster the 457s goes the more offshoring we can do.

    The fact that a lot of these jokers think that they deserve to be trained is ridiculous. I wouldn't mind giving a 3 month training to a fresh grad but definitely not someone who has some level of experience in IT. I expect them to come into the job and start performing. I have no time or inclination to "train" on the job.

    It is far more cost effective for me to send the whole project overseas. Besides countries like Singapore, Malaysia and India actually provide incentives for tech companies to base there and the average qualification in India for IT is a Masters.

    One can them simply run a sales office locally and be extremely profitable. This is the age of social, mobile and cloud - and I don't think employers are going to sit down and listen to ex-IT employees go on like a bunch of whiny little girls. Its all about cost and output. So I am definitely with Gillard, the faster the 457s goes the more offshoring we can do.
    Azizi Khan
    • indian qualifications

      Azizi is right about Indian qualifications.

      Degree's,PHD's etc can all be bought at the right price there, just like how the Indian government does business. Saw how this was done when I went to visit a dev house in Mumbia!

      For some companies, the security of there data and quality of service they require is worth paying for. At the end of the day "you get what you pay for".

      Offshore development has its place, but will never wholly replace local development in all cases.

      http://zeenews.india.com/business/news/international/india-outsourcing-failure-blamed-for-2-3-bn-loss-by-ubs-trader_65122.html
      dylanhol