Australia’s business visa system ‘uncompetitive’, Google says

Short-term visas cruel tech company’s recruitment plans

Google has called on the federal government to “fix skilled migration policy,” revealing that the 2017 changes to the skilled migration visa system compelled the tech company to “revise its Australian recruitment plans.”

The government in April last year announced it would scrap the 457 temporary visa class. The 457 visas are being replaced with a Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa class. Depending on the occupation, TSS visas will be granted for either two years or four years.

Full implementation of the TSS visa is expected to be complete by March this year.

In June 2017, the government updated the occupations lists for temporary and permanent skilled visas, including making a number of additional ICT-related roles eligible for four-year visas.

The government has said that it plans to update the lists every six months.

Google’s comments are contained in a submission to the government’s public consultation on the development of a digital economy strategy.

Although the consultation ended last year, a number of submissions to the consultation were made public earlier this week.

“Business-critical skills have been excluded from the longer term visa categories that are necessary to attract workers with the knowledge and experience required to train younger Australian employees,” Google argued in its submission.

Examples include product managers, UX specialists, and technical solutions and systems administrators “proficient in Google’s proprietary products and systems.”

Australia’s business visa system is “uncompetitive compared to global peers in two key ways,” the tech company said.

The first if that the system does not recognise the value of proprietary knowledge and pigeon-holes roles into the skills categories of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) standard, Google said.

The second is that it “does not provide long-term certainty necessary to attract people from overseas with the skills necessary to grow and train a globally competitive Australian workforce”.

The visa system does not provide “the stability required for senior workers with families and children if their role falls into a short term skill category”.

“Immigration policy has been raised as a key policy concern by Australian and international businesses, and by the fast-growing Australian startup and venture capital communities,” Google argued.

“The jobs of the future in Australia are under threat unless continued access to highly-skilled workers can be maintained.”

Google also repeated its call for changes to Australian copyright law, including the expansion of the safe harbour scheme and the introduction of a ‘fair use’ system.

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