Tech giants back call for intra-company transfer visas for Australia.

Tech giants and industrial bodies have broadly welcomed calls from a government-led committee to allow large firms to bypass the labour market testing and has allowed them to parachute overseas executives into Australia when necessary.

The recommendation was suppressed in the migration committee’s report into the nation’s skilled migration program a few days ago, which also asked that (ANZSCO) the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations skills list be replaced.

If it is implemented, this change will grant (MNC)multinational companies an exemption from all the labour market testing to transfer their “executive employees” to Australia whenever necessary in order to “expand their operations in the country”.

The inquiry was said to have heard that a streamlined path for intra-company transfers is actually necessary to allow businesses to fill in specific occupations that require specialised and proprietary knowledge, which may not be available in the native labour market in Australia.

The committee stated that, if it is implemented, the government should consider subjecting the measure, which could be introduced through a brand new visa category, to “other strict integrity measures”. However, it has not defined what these may be.

Several other nations in the Northern Hemisphere have already introduced intra-firm transfers in the form of specific visas or permits, including the United Kingdom, which is currently looking at reforming its scheme.

Digital Industrial Group Inc (DIGI), a body representing Google, Apple, Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and Verizon Media, has welcomed the recommendation, with managing director Ms Sunita Bose saying it could lead to a more significant change in the Australian tech sector.

“For a few highly specialised roles or where there might be fillers in the ability to hire locally, recommendations like this are crucial not only in building ability within the offices of multinational firms but also for the long-term benefits to the wider technology ecosystem in Australia,” she told “iTnews”.

“Having more global tech firms encouraged to expand in Australia will serve in order to create a thriving ecosystem where the calibre of talent, the networking, mentorship, business opportunities and everything will increase.”

Ms Bose added that “skilled migration complements the hiring of Australian citizens and locals, research has shown that the technology sector directly employs over half a million highly skilled workers in Australia”.

Australia’s peak IT industry body, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), was more reserved, stating that Australia should focus on “supporting local abilities and skills to ensure we have enough economic resiliency and business continuity”.

“The need to consider Australia‘s domestic abilities has been highlighted in the past year with the loss of skilled migrants, both arriving and having departed Australia due to the pandemic,” AIIA CEO Mr Ron Gauci told iTnews.

“The AIIA has been requesting additional funding from the Australian governments to support skills boosting in the technology sector for many years.”

But while “Australia’s ICT sector is overly reliant on overseas labor” and when there is a need to “nurture and build a strong ICT workforce to be able to protect our economy”, Mr. Gauci acknowledged that there is an interim need to support the industry.

“While Australia continues to build domestic ability, international expertise onshore provides a crucial opportunity for learning and growth amongst the domestic staff,” he added.

“Sharing of knowledge is critical to developing local talent and creating a pipeline of ready-made leaders in the tech sector.”

“The Australian technology sector is very talented and continues to demonstrate their abilities on the global stage.

“But a strong plan to build the Australian ICT skills by governments will help reduce the reliance on international talent growing in the Australian tech sector.”

A spokesperson for IBM Australia said the firm would be supportive if the recommendation is adopted.

Microsoft would not respond to a request for comment before publication. 

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