It’s been a very busy year for the IT industry in Australia, with a number of significant developments during the past 12 months.
There appears to be a somewhat schizophrenic collective opinion when it comes to Australian ICT skills. On one hand, we have reports that paint a negative picture in regards to the lack of adequately trained and skilled local (Australian) ICT workers. If those reports are to be believed, it would appear that Australia is lagging significantly behind the rest of the developed world in terms of critical IT skills (eg, cybersecurity). On the other hand, we regularly see data that talk to the world standard of our university degrees and the high number of international students who are flocking to them, with IT and technology disciplines regularly being in high demand.
As you are aware, ITPA has made several comments on the impact of various visa classes on the IT industry in Australia. We have no issue at all with the hiring of foreign workers where local skills are genuinely not available and parallel efforts are made to skill up locals. But we do have concerns that the local market protections built into visa classes, which allow foreign workers to enter the Australian workforce on a temporary basis, are not enforced sufficiently to protect the local market.
I was recently asked (on Twitter, but that part really isn’t that important), while discussing the Assistance and Access Bill (I’ve written about that particular topic a few times here already), why someone would join ITPA as a financial member. What does a member get back in return for $165 each year (roughly the annual cost of a takeaway coffee per week)?
2018 has been a big year, and quite a mixed bag. We got a new national Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, which was a step forward in ensuring that if an organisation collected and then lost control of your information, they had to tell you about it. The 457 visa scheme was replaced with a ‘Temporary Skills Shortage’ visa — in theory a move in the right direction, but ultimately one that was made with little industry consultation. The jury is still out on whether this will ultimately be a positive for the nation.