Govt urged to scrap 'outdated' skills list used for tech worker visas

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Govt urged to scrap 'outdated' skills list used for tech worker visas

A parliamentary committee has urged the Federal Government to rethink the skilled occupations list used for issuing visas for IT workers so current skills needs are met.

The committee, led by Julian Leeser MP and supported by other MPs and senators, are calling to replace or update the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list.

As reported by CRN sibling site iTnews, the changes mean IT companies may not be required to shoehorn emerging roles into outdated descriptions to bring in skilled workers from overseas.

The ANZSCO list is a list of occupations that dictate the current skilled migration program on who can work in Australia or not, which saw its last major change in 2006.

“The National Skills Commission should develop a new occupation and/or skills identification system for the skilled migration program in consultation with industry to replace ANZSCO,” the committee’s report read.

“The new system should be more flexible to adapt to emerging labour market needs, with consideration given to how the new system would integrate with other functions of government currently utilising the ANZSCO.”

A number of tech companies and tech industry bodies provided submissions to support the committee’s recommendations, including the Australian Computer Society (ACS), Atlassian, Canva and EY.

“ANZSCO no longer provides a solid foundation for Australia’s skilled temporary and permanent migration programs. It is widely accepted that ANZSCO is backwards looking and inflexible. It does not accommodate roles of the future that require multiskilling or capture emerging occupations.” EY’s submission read.

“For specialist roles and emerging roles, it is often difficult to determine which, if any, classification is suitable. ANZSCO has no capacity to cater to industries of the future and provide a framework to support innovation in Australia.”

The ACS cited the perceived disconnect between the higher education sector and the skills needed in the Australian economy, saying “universities can’t create the courses that are needed if students don’t take them up”. It added that while IT-related course enrolments have increased, there still is a gap that is supplemented by skilled migration.

The organisation told the committee that adopting industry specific standards “would go some way” to addressing the current situation wherein skills in demand are not recognised in skills lists and would have an added benefit of helping skilled migrants to demonstrate their skills to Australian employers.

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