Are changes to visa regulations creating talent shortages for critical roles?

While for many job roles there is home grown talent available in Australia, others are suffering acute talent shortages. Driven by the demand of a rapidly evolving digital world, it is notoriously difficult to source data science and cyber-security experts, or to find talent for roles where a global perspective is required, such as risk and compliance.

As well as fines from the Information Commission, data breaches can result in lasting reputational damage and they are on the rise. It is critical for organisations to source talent that can protect their business.

Does this talent exist in Australia? Research suggests that Australia needs 18,000 more cyber security specialists by 2026 to remain globally competitive[2]. A search on LinkedIn reveals there are currently only 2,050 ‘cyber security specialists’ in Australia with relevant qualifications and experience, and only 300 of these are open to new opportunities[3].

Mel Nosworthy , Head of Service Delivery and Customer Performance at Harrier Talent Solutions, understands the challenge faced by our clients due to the shortage of home grown talent in this area:

Businesses must do more to support education and career development pathways within cyber-security and to effectively plan for new roles driven by emerging technology. In the short-term however, to remain competitive, or in some cases viable, employers have little option but to source talent from abroad.

Occupations relating to IT accounted for 3,030 of nominations for successful temporary work visas last year, more than any other job type. Recent changes to regulations, including the abolition of the 457 visa, has made hiring talent from overseas more difficult. Without a pathway to residency, talented candidates are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Visas granted for these occupations decreased by 37% from 2017 to 2018.[4]

Alternatively, some companies have chosen to outsource their critical IT functions to overseas teams.[5] However, this presents issues for both the Australian economy and for managing risks in the event of a breach.

Jodie Choyce, Sourcing Hub Manager at Harrier Talent Solutions, has firsthand experience of the challenges with sourcing candidates from the Australian market when it comes to these critical positions:

While perhaps too early to assess the full impact of these changes, recruiters and employers can play a role in mitigating damage to the talent pipeline in Australia. There is an opportunity to present a business case to the Department of Home Affairs in January and July every year, where organisations can use data collected that shows the need for specialist IT roles and the lack of suitable domestic talent available to advocate for their inclusion on eligible skilled occupations lists. Employers operating in skills-short areas could also better employ labour agreements offering a pathway to permanent residency for applicants.[6]

To successfully navigate these talent challenges, it is important that employers understand Australia’s legislative environment and stay one step ahead of potential changes and risks. If you’d like to learn more or find out how your business can support the case for legislative changes in relation to skills shortages and visa restrictions, please get in touch.


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