Home Government Tech Policy New talent visa scheme a ‘breakthrough’ for Aussie tech companies
Alex McCauley, StartupAus Alex McCauley, StartupAus Featured

Australia’s peak national start-up group, StartupAUS, has lauded the federal government’s proposed introduction of a new visa scheme designed to help start-ups and business attract highly skilled global talent.

StartupAUS chief executive Alex McCauley hailed the changes as a breakthrough for high growth tech companies after the announcement on Monday of a new visa scheme to attract highly skilled global talent and deliver innovation to Australia with a pilot programme to be launched from 1 July.

“Being able to access the right kind of talent quickly is the core challenge for fast-growing technology companies and start-ups in Australia.  A little while ago, the government flagged it wanted to do more to help trusted businesses access visas quickly and easily,” McCauley said.

“Typically in Australia that would mean big, established businesses. Thanks to input from StartupAUS and others, there’s now a ‘start-up stream’ which will help genuine startups access these new favourable arrangements too. That’s a real win for the sector and for companies looking to hire top quality global talent to help them grow. It’s encouraging to see the Government has really listened on this.

“These changes should help young Australian tech businesses compete more effectively on the global stage. That will allow them to grow quickly and hire more Australians across the business. It’s a good bet that everyone hired on one of these visas will be a net job creator for Australians.”

McCauley also said that including equity in salary considerations for start-ups was a step forward, saying “we’ve been making the case for a long time that start-ups need to be treated a bit differently in situations like this”.

“When you’re looking at how much start-ups are prepared to pay people, you have to take equity into account. Just about every startup in the world uses equity as a lever to help attract top talent, so you can’t ignore it. The government has listened to us on that one, which is a very positive sign.”

McCauley said that it would be  important for government and industry to work closely together to identify start-ups which qualify for the scheme.

“As part of the vetting process for this and future pilot schemes, start-ups will need to be identified by an expert group, which is working closely with the start-up community. The important thing is that there remains close industry collaboration and consultation.”

McCauley cited LinkedIn data, prepared for TechSydney and StartupAUS in their 15 September 2017 “Visa Simplification Policy Consultation Paper” submission, that high-tech and finance companies led 2017 hiring (from January-August 2017), accounting for 44% of hires; followed by manufacturing (9%), educational (7%) and government (6%).

In other comment welcoming the government’s proposed new visa class, David Jones, senior managing director of recruitment firm Robert Half Asia Pacific, said the Global Talent Scheme — that will allow businesses with more than $4 million in annual turnover to sponsor a "highly skilled and experienced" individual for a role paying more than $180,000 into Australia — shows that the government is further recognising the IT skills gap faced by Australian businesses.

Jones said that with 82% of Australian CIOs saying it is more challenging to find skilled IT staff compared to five years ago — according to independent research commissioned by Robert Half — “it is imperative for our nation’s competitiveness and economy that we are able access the best talent in the world, whether locally or abroad”.

“Hiring the best talent underpins greater business growth, productivity and profitability – so it’s essential for companies to have easy access to the right talent to positively impact their bottom line.

“The new tech talent visa is a great step forward to reduce the ongoing IT skills shortage, but it needs to be part of a multi-faceted approach where the government works alongside the wider business community and education providers to deliver longer-term solutions to Australia’s IT talent shortage,” Jones suggested.

Tim Bos, co-founder of ShareRing, an on-demand platform that connects the sharing economy, said: "This is a great opportunity to  bring highly skilled and experienced labour into Australia and to utilise that labour to pass knowledge on to our junior staff, who are often hired straight out of university.

"An issue we face is in finding people with a lot of experience in the areas of blockchain, telematics and sensors, but if we are given the option to hire this talent from overseas, it would be hugely beneficial to our knowledge growth and overall business prosperity."


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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