The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has rejected calls from the IT recruitment industry to ditch changes to the 457 visas made by the Howard government.
Representatives of the IT Consulting and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) and the Recruitment and Consulting Services Association met with DIAC and the Department of Workplace Relations late last week to discuss changes made by the previous government to the 457 skilled immigration visas.
The changes, made shortly before the Howard government was ousted in the Federal election in November last year, required recruiters sponsoring 457 workers to keep a percentage of Australian-born workers on their books or in training. ITCRA executive director, Norman Lacy, described the changes as having caused devastation within the industry after they went into effect last year.
Lacy was not available for comment today, but a DIAC spokesperson told ZDNet.com.au that employers had been "encouraged to work with the Commonwealth so that mutually beneficial outcomes can be achieved", even though the government has no intention of reversing the changes at this stage.
The spokesperson also accused the recruitment industry creating extra delays by failing to deliver adequate labour agreement applications, saying: "While there has been understandable delays caused by the introduction of the new arrangements, the on-hire industry has contributed to delays through the lodgement of incomplete applications without sufficient supporting evidence."
Susie Rogers, director of ICT recruitment firm Rusher Rogers, said that the changes have made it difficult to hire personnel in some areas.
"Our clients have a whole range of special roles that they can't fill ... I think the industry is well and truly willing to do whatever it takes to lift the restrictions to fill these positions, they're not the type of roles where you can compromise on," she said.
However, Rogers also spoke out against the ongoing publicity the IT skills shortage is receiving saying companies need to look to alternative methods of filling vacant positions. "There's so much bleating on about the skills shortage at the moment, but we just want to get something done about it ... half the problem is just in educating organisations to look for other possible resources for recruitment".
"Maybe the 457 visa isn't the silver bullet industry's been looking for ... maybe we should just look at other areas where people are crying out for work, such as return to work mums and part-time workers," she said.
According to Rogers, security specialists and experienced c++ and Java programmers are still some of the most sought after candidates in the ICT workforce: "It's getting very hard to find those people at the moment," she added.