A state parliamentary inquiry into skills shortages is yet to hear from the Australian technology industry, but it has already signaled it will make recommendations to the federal government on 457 visas.
The NSW inquiry by the Legislative Assembly Committee on Economic Development has held two hearings, it has two more scheduled, in Coffs Harbour in September and in Sydney in October, with a report due to be tabled in Parliament in November.
On Monday it heard companies would struggle to staff large projects such as the national broadband network (NBN) without importing workers on 457 visas.
The size and nature of the NBN rollout means it does create some challenges, Australian Industry Group NSW director Mark Goodsell told the inquiry.
457 visas and skilled immigration is a really important part of the mix … but it’s not a substitute for the nation having a very good skills strategy. Skilled migration is sort of the balancing item. It’s the tap you can turn on with reliable quality fairly quickly, Mr Goodsell said.
Committee chairman David Elliott told IT Pro that as the NBN was a one-off infrastructure project, he would need to ‘‘be very cautious about using it as an example’’ in his deliberations.
No IT industry representative had fronted the inquiry but technology had been a ‘‘very strong theme’’ during the hearings, he said.
However, he rejected suggestions IT workers in Australia were worried about losing their jobs to off shoring or to 457 visa holders, as reported by Fairfax Media and its readers.
‘‘I am yet to see an example of someone who’s been replaced by someone on a 457 visa,” said Mr Elliott, the member for Baulkham Hills. “If someone gives me an example, I’d be happy [to consider],” he said adding he would welcome reader and industry submissions.