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Published on October 15th, 2009 | by


Australian skills shortage “a risk to recovery”

Industry leaders in Australia are urging the Australian federal government to overhaul its skilled immigration program to address a looming shortage of workers.

Recent changes by DIAC to the skilled migration visa processing times have meant that many hundreds of applicants for visas have been told that they may have to wait up to 3 years and this is slated to impact on several massive projects announced for Western Australia, including the Gorgon gas development, expansion of the Pluto LNG plant and the development of the Mid-West iron ore region including the massive Gindalbie iron ore mine which will need upwards of 1500 workers during the construction stage.

The recent Australian Financial Review ( has stated that skills shortages are set to intensify in coming years.

The article calls for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to urgently look at reviewing Australian visa policies to ensure that these shortages can be filled. More immigrants will be needed to work in Australia in industries such as energy, mining  and IT which, according to the review, face a major skills shortage unless something drastic is done to alleviate it.

Major Australian firms such as infrastructure giant United Group have also released warnings to the government that they will be facing skills shortages within 12 to 18 months.

The firm’s CEO Richard Leupen declared that the shortage has been brought about as a result of the tightening of the business visa rules. He says this has coincided with the company’s reduction in training programmes for staff in response to the recession.

In the IT industry, the need is even more acute. A study, commissioned by Microsoft Australia, has found the IT industry will generate $21 billion for GDP by the end of 2013 but any potential growth could be stifled by the shortage of skilled labour.

Bruce Mills, chief executive of IT consultancy firm 3W, says as more IT work becomes available, such as the National Broadband Network, companies will struggle to grow and obtain new projects if the number of skilled workers remains flat.

“What has occurred is that everything that was done to avoid the global financial crisis has sort of spilled over, and so by the time any of the results were felt any issue that caused the crisis is over, and that is what has happened with the tightening of 457 visas.”

11 Responses to Australian skills shortage “a risk to recovery”

  1. Chris says:

    $90k ?? i wish, i earn $50k after 3 years study (I used to get more driving trucks)

  2. Pingback: Australia and New Zealand Magazine » Disabled software developer denied Australian migration visa

  3. Paul Tait says:

    I have just received a reply from the Minister of Immigration about the MODL list. Basically it said the the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is the major contributor to the list so I have written to Julia Gillard.

    The thing about the MODL that I really don’t like is that it puts C++ (my specialty) in the same category as C#. I explained that C++ used to rule the roost but now has to share with C# and Java so that alone means C++ jobs have decrease by 60%. I also explained that while I’m trying to break into the C# market my 20 years of industry experience are ranked lower than current C# Java skills.

    Do other people agree/disagree with me on my assesment of the decline in C++?


  4. Doug says:

    There are many changes in the migration space at the moment – it is fast moving sand. There is new legislation being passed about stricter skills assessments, processing times are changing for each visa type and English language levels for guest workers have increased.
    However an impending skills crisis and a high Australian dollar bodes well – do the sums on changing your money back to pounds on your 90k job.
    Complete our free appraisal and we will keep you informed of changes, let you know of employers who are looking for your skills and provide you with assistance to fast track you when the time is right to move.

    p.s. take what you read in the Australian media with a pinch of salt

  5. Paul Tait says:

    This is the reply from the ACS

    Hi Paul

    Sounds like an interesting conversation. ACS is consulted about skills that should go onto the MODL list, along with a fairly large number of other organisations. In addition, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, who determine what skills are in shortage, did a fairly extensive survey of businesses to find out what ICT skills they were after and included ICT recruitment firms in their consultations as well, I believe.

    So the answer I guess is yes, but we form part of an extensive consultation program undertaken by the govt on this issue.

    Hope that helps.

  6. M.Roshan says:

    Jackson, I completely agree with you. Most organisations consider IT professionals as a next to admin role, or sometimes beleiving that outsourcing is the simplest solution.

  7. Jackson says:

    There is not a shortage of skilled workers. There is shortage of skilled workers willing to work for the sort of money office admins earn.

    IT is becoming the new teaching. Ideally, you have intelligent, motivated people who love their subject. The reality is that the qualified people can earn $50k-$70k more doing other things, and so are leaving the industry.

    Rather than increase the salaries to keep address “demand” and keep talent from moving to alternative industries, business is seeking to flood the market to address the “supply” side of the equation.

    In short – if you are a process driven non-creative follower willing to work for $90k a year, come to Australia. If you are a strategic innovative IT worker with 12-15 years of experience, tread water on contract, then head to the UK as the economy improves, make some decent money, then get out of the industry.

  8. Simon Wild says:

    I wonder how much of declaring a shortage of resources, is an attempt to drive costs down by increasing the pool of available resources, or a genuine shortage of resources.

  9. Haider Ali says:

    This is surprising as I know many IT professionals in Australia who are looking for oppurtunities abroad including the UAE. I believe this would be the right time to make a move to Australia. Does anyone know good recruitment consultants who can help me find a job in Australia before I migrate in Jan 2010? I already have the Permanent residence status.

  10. Mark says:

    We have already started ramping up and we are building up lists of skilled people waiting in the wings for employers to call. We work with leading employers and if you are skilled and interested working in Australia then take out free migration appraisal and register yor CV.

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