The Victoria Government is lobbying its federal counterparts for significant reforms to skilled migration programs to give local tech companies better access to global tech talent.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has written to the federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Population Minister Alan Tudge calling for reforms to skilled migration visa policies and settings in order to address a growing skills gap in the state and around Australia.
“If we want Victoria to grow, then it is vital we have the skilled workforce to match. The most innovative local businesses and multinationals are doing what they can to recruit and develop talent locally, but when it comes to bringing in additional skilled workers, they say the visa process is time-consuming and expensive,” Mr Pallas told InnovationAus.com.
“We look forward to working with the federal government on how we can better fix skill shortages, including re-introducing the option for states to request expedited visa processing for major projects.”
Tech companies across the country have been struggling to combat the growing skills gap, with many forced to look overseas for specific roles. Earlier this month, the federal government made a trial visa program helping tech companies attract skilled overseas workers permanent following a 12-month pilot.
The Global Talent-Employer Sponsored program offers fast-tracked visas for up to four years for skilled tech roles, with a permanent residency pathway.
But there were still a number of issues with the scheme, including the high costs for startups and a requirement to advertise for the position locally for several months.
The federal government also recently launched a fast-tracked migration stream for highly-skilled global talent, which will see Austrade actively trying to attract overseas workers to Australia.
But the Victorian government wants the Commonwealth to go much further than this in order to help local companies compete for global talent.
Mr Pallas recommended that federal authorities re-establish avenues for state governments to request expedited visa processing for “significant major projects” and to allow for intra-company transfers in appropriate circumstances.
The Victorian government also wants a visa and skilled migration working group to be established as part of the federal Treasurer’s Population Forum.
The Forum, which met for the first time in February this year, involves all levels of government discussing how to “better plan for Australia’s changing population”.
In a speech earlier this month, immigration minister David Coleman said skilled migration was the “lynch-pin” of the government’s immigration policies.
“Skilled migrants add value to Australian businesses, they generate significant tax revenue, they start their own companies,” Mr Coleman said in the speech.
“They create the conditions that lead to more Australian job opportunities. And it stands to reason that the more skilled a migrant is, the better.”