Five organisations have signed up to the government’s pilot Global Talent Scheme (GTS) program, launched in July in a bid to make it easier for big business and tech start-ups to hire overseas talent for highly skilled roles.
Medical device-maker Cochlear, SFDC Australia (better known as Salesforce), miner Rio Tinto and workplace health and safety app-maker SafetyCulture have signed up to the 12 months trial in the ‘established business’ stream of the scheme.
Quantum technology start-up Q-CTRL is the first to access a scheme agreement under the ‘start-up stream’, the government revealed today.
"Australia’s skilled migration program is about recruiting the best and brightest migrants – those who are going to work, help grow the economy and commit to Australian values," Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said in a statement.
"Australia’s skilled migration program is about recruiting the best and brightest migrants – those who are going to work, help grow the economy and commit to Australian values," he added.
In its mid-year economic financial outlook (MYEFO), released this week, the government committed $12.9 million over three years towards a ‘Global Talent Initiative’
It said the initiative (GTI) builds on the GTS as well as its Business Innovation and Investment program, and Distinguished Talent program.
The GTI will “allocate up to 5,000 places drawn from the non-nominated and non-sponsored skilled cohort of the annual migration program” the document states.
The initiative will also involve the promotion of the country “to skilled individuals in key overseas locations” including the USA, India, Europe and Singapore.
The GTS pilot was touted as a fix for the restrictive nature of the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa which was introduced in March. The TSS – which replaced the 457 visa class – tightened the requirements for individuals wanting to get an employer sponsored work visa in Australia.
The list of eligible occupations was shortened, stricter English language requirements were introduced and the overall cost of the visa was raised. As under the previous visa regime, businesses sponsoring workers must demonstrate they are unable to source suitable individuals in Australia.
Workers sponsored under the GTS are issued a four-year Temporary Skill Shortage visa will be issued with permanent residence able to be applied for after three years.
Speaking in March at a Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes said the scrapping of the 457 temporary visa class had “damaged Australia’s reputation in the largest industry in the world”.
“We’ve said to the global tech industry, we are fundamentally closed for business,” he said.
Google, whose submission to the government’s public consultation on the development of a digital economy strategy was made public in January, has also criticised the government’s changes to the visa system.
“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.
The government said it was “continuing to work with industry on the implementation and refinement of the scheme” to ensure it delivers on its aim to offer “more flexible visa arrangements to help attract global talent to Australia”.
Startups’ eligibility to access the scheme will be determined by a new independent expert panel made up of “members from a cross-section of the Australian startup sector and emerging technological industries”.
A survey by specialist recruiters Robert Half in September found 93 per cent of chief information officers support the scheme. A little over half (56 per cent) of the CIOs questioned believed the GTS will succeed in reducing the IT skills shortage in Australia. A similar number said it would help increase productivity.
Commenting today, Cochlear chief executive officer, Dig Howitt said the GTS was a “positive step forward” towards securing a pipeline of international technology talent.
"Australian companies, like Cochlear can only succeed on the world stage if we have access to global talent," he said.