AIIA welcomes changes to international student visas

The IT sector is now Australia’s third largest economic sector

Australia’s peak body for innovation technology, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), welcomes the changes announced by The Hon. Minister Jason Clare and The Hon. Minister Clare O’Neil to extend post-study work rights for international students in Australia to help address skills shortages.

The AIIA has been advocating for this measure to be implemented in submissions made to the Government, with member organisations citing the continued shortage of skilled IT workers impacting their businesses. It is forecast that the tech needs a further 330,000 skilled workers by 2027 to meet demand.

The IT sector is now Australia’s third largest economic sector and adds $YS167B to the economy annually. As Australia heads for an IT workforce exceeding 1.2m by 2030, a range of measures are needed to boost the development and retention of skilled workers. The growth in demand for workers continues to significantly outstrip domestic training and immigration.

The conditions on hiring graduating international students, which often sees a visa application take nine months to be processed, is a significant handbrake on employment. The AIIA has recommended that students be allowed to apply for this visa in their final year of study.

In its 2022-member survey, the AIIA found that 35 percent of members were looking to hire staff from overseas, with the shortage of skilled Australian workers the key driver of this. AIIA CEO Simon Bush said: “The changes announced by the Government are a signal for the industry that the Government is listening to our concerns.

It is a great indication that Australian companies can invest and support university students to support their workforce. We have 23,000 international students’ complete IT qualifications in Australia annually, with a further 9,000 domestic students. These skills are in high demand around the world, and we need to make it simple for graduates to remain in Australia, something we are not currently doing.

“As our digital economy continues to grow and expand, a talented workforce is needed to support this. Allowing students to apply in their final year of study can help speed up the visa approval and allow companies to employ graduates as soon as they finish their studies. We still see significant staff shortages, often in high paying roles, where companies are forced to look overseas for talent.

There is no one solution to this challenge. A range of measures – including training and education, along with skilled migration – are needed to help overcome the skills shortage in the IT sector.” The AIIA is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at fuelling Australia’s future social and economic prosperity through tech innovation and remains committed to working with all levels of Government to secure Australia’s digital future.



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