The Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (IGEA) has flagged a lack of accommodations for game development related jobs in the current skilled occupations lists and a lack of clear pathways towards permanent residency for game developers who move to Australia for work.
As a result, they have been working with the department of employment to accommodate 47 videogame development-related roles on the Skilled Occupations List, by recognising the roles through existing Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) codes.
According to an interview provided to Screenhub, the classification definitions are based on the skill level and specialisation usually necessary to perform the tasks of the specific occupation, or of most occupations in the group, and an employer is required to nominate a category through which a working visa is processed.
Before these changes came through, game developers who hoped to work in Australia had to apply under the code 261211 Multimedia Specialist, categorised within the Unit group 2612 Multimedia Specialists and Web Developers. The lack of specificity of this classification has an adverse effect on migrating game developers, and for local studios who are recruiting.
Now, with the introduction of 47 games-specific occupation codes, IGEA has successfully advocated
for the formal recognition of games-specific roles within existing codes. This includes the formal recognition of some technical roles like (Senior) Rendering Engineer or (Senior) Graphics Engineer within the existing Multimedia Specialists category that had previously covered all game development.
Crucially, it includes game development roles that do not fit so comfortably within the Multimedia Specialist category, such as the addition of Environment artist to the 232412 Illustrator code and the role of Level Designer to the 232413 Multimedia Designer code.
The association with current AZSCO codes also determines whether an occupation is included on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) or Regional Occupation Lists. This i turn determines whether or not an occupation qualifies for a pathway to permanent residency.
Currently, game developers who are hired in the MLTSSL stream, such as programmers, will qualify for such a pathway, whereas game developers in roles that are classified within the STSOL stream, like artists, marketing experts, and some designers, will still be forced to leave the country after a maximum of two years.
As a result, Australian companies struggle to compete to hire in the international market, where many competitors work in regions that have established game development ecosystems with supportive migration schemes.
Given these challenges The IGEA has proposed a labour agreement that would allow Australian games studios to sponsor skilled overseas workers, arguing that there is evidence that the need cannot be met locally, and current visa programs are insufficient to the industry’s needs.
The agreement, which is still being assessed by the Department of Home Affairs, would facilitate local studios in hiring across all game development roles, and in creating pathways to migration for all hires, not those formally recognised in the MLTSSL stream.
In a statement to Screenhub, IGEA expressed optimism about the outcome of the agreement:
With the game industry proving to be largely resilient to the effects of COVID-19 in contrast to other sectors, we are confident that we can make a persuasive case. Numerous members are still looking to hire senior roles and will benefit from access to a large international talent base.
Are you a gaming developer looking to come to Australia?
Will these changes encourage you to move to Australia? Let us know in our comments.