Visa list cuts reflect IT jobs slump

The continuing ICT labour market slump has led to a 26 per cent decline in the number of temporary business visas granted to IT workers this year.

Responding to the fall in employment the Federal Government has reduced the number of ICT specialisations listed on its Migration Occupations in Demand List (MODL) for the second time this year.

The new MODL now lists five ICT specialisations, down from 12; it follows an earlier drop in April this year from 26 to 12.

Announcing the revised list, the Minister for Immigration Philip Ruddock said it is simply a reaction to increased difficulties some Australian computing professionals are experiencing in finding work.

Unemployed Cisco certified IT worker Alex Zaflavsky agrees market conditions are tough. He claims there are up to 200 applicants for positions he has applied for, creating a bleak outlook in the short term.

However, Senator Kate Lundy, the Shadow Minister for information technology, believes the Federal Government is taking the wrong steps to address the "serious issue of ICT unemployment".

"The Government's ICT employment policy objective should be to ensure that in the long run Australia has a body of skilled workers that can meet the employment demands of a vibrant ICT industry, but instead the Coalition has again reacted with a knee-jerk, short-term reaction," she said.

Senator Lundy said that the Coalition should develop a visionary, long-term strategy that should include plans to "expand our domestic ICT industry's export capabilty, support for programs to train and retrain unemployed ICT professionals and an examination of the temporary 457 visa scheme, which is impacting on unemployed Australian ICT professionals more than the MODL".

"Cutting the MODL will not help grow the domestic ICT sector, and nor will it magically assist out-of-work ICT professionals get the retraining and work experience they need to compete in the labour market," she said.

Senator Lundy also suggested that the Coalition is merely keeping large organisations happy by serving the needs of global organisations with staff who move around the world.

But the Government claims fine-tuning the MODL means targeted skilled migration helps fill jobs that cannot be filled from the local market.

The Government statement said the reduction in the number of ICT specialisations on the MODL means that only those intending migrants with ICT skills that are not in surplus in Australia will benefit from targeted migration arrangements.

The new MODL will take effect later this month.

The new MODL includes computing professionals in the following specialisations:

  • General application development, software engineering
  • Internet, networking, LAN, WAN, Java (security and electronic commerce)
  • Client/server applications, PeopleSoft, Siebel
  • Security and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

According to a statement on the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs Web site, computing professionals would normally be expected to have at least 12 months work experience in the specialisation for which they have applied for assessment or have been sponsored.

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