Vox pop: Will the removal of 457 visas hurt the IT industry?

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This article appeared in the July 2017 issue of CRN magazine.

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Vox pop: Will the removal of 457 visas hurt the IT industry?

Tim Reed, chief executive, MYOB

With the recent changes to the 457 visa, it’s crucial for the Australian government to the flow-on effect for the local software development industry, especially at a leadership level.

Under the previous rules, an applicant could receive a four-year 457 visa with the right to extend it for another four years. The candidate, if under 50, could also apply to become a permanent resident. But under the new rules, this role falls into a two-year 457 visa category, with the right to extend only for another two years. These changes will no doubt concern those who had thought about accepting job roles in Australia.

If we want to keep tech organisations based in Australia – and ensure that they have the ability to grow beyond the level at which they exist today – we need the best talent to complement them, both from here and overseas. The current ecosystem has led to an excellent development of and steady increase in local talent.

Sam Chandler, chief executive and founder, Nitro

The government can’t proclaim to support innovation while simultaneously announcing confusing legislative changes that affect one of the single biggest contributors to growth in the tech economy: the availability of talent.

For companies, the biggest issue is political and policy uncertainty. When government support for the technology industry is perceived to be weakening, we will simply shift our focus on talent to other parts of the world. This is just the reality of modern technology companies, and the long-term costs to Australia will be huge.

Take Nitro as an example: given the political situations in the US and Australia, we are likely to focus more of our talent growth in our Dublin, Ireland office, where the immigration system is stable and the government is pro-technology.

Bill Morrow, chief executive, NBN

I am on a 457 visa that I believe expires in April 2018.

I think it was a journalist who asked the question that made me think of it, and the corporate affairs team had to investigate with HR to find out what the expiry date was.

As I understand it, and getting my advice from the experts, I can still renew my visa in April next year. The current language [of the 457 changes] does not bar or restrict me from doing that.

Fewer than two percent of the company are on 457 visas, and they are not impacted by this change. There are no executives other than myself that are on a 457.

I think it is important that NBN draw from world talent. The preference is to hire skilled people right here in Australia, but should that not be possible, then pulling talent from the rest of the globe is important.

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