The ICT industry is split on the recommendations made in a review of the troubled 457 visa program by industrial relations commissioner, Barbara Deegan.
The 100-page report, released by Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, features a number of recommendations to the government, including: The abolishment of the minimum salary level in favour of market rates of pay for all temporary visa holders on salaries less than $100,000; the development of an accreditation system or risk matrix to ensure rapid processing of low-risk visa applications; the development of new lists setting out the skilled occupations for which temporary work visas can be granted; and an extension on the limitation on visa holders from a four-year stay to eight years.
Dimension Data corporate communications manager, Martin Aungle, said the integrator was supportive of the proposed revisions.
"The main area of significance from our perspective is that the revisions would give us a better capacity to bring in specialist skills that are not necessarily within Australia, such as IT procurement," Aungle said.
Three to four per cent of DiData's Australian staff has come in under the 457 visa program, mostly from other DiData regions such as South Africa, the UK and Asia Pacific nations, Aungle said.
However, AIIA CEO, Ian Birks, said that while the 457 program was essential for the industry, as it helped address the skills shortage issue, the proposed revisions raised some concerns.
"We have two concerns with the review. Firstly, the approach of fair market wage could lead to higher overall costs for employers, and may make it difficult for local companies to compete globally," Birks said.
"There also needs to be some caution on how the system would work in not restricting opportunities for Australian ICT graduates."
Neither of the AIIA concerns is shared by DiData.
"We're struggling to get skills in the local market at the moment, and we see the extension on visa limits from four to eight years as a positive. We're also not concerned with the salary level change, as we already pay above the award," Aungle said.
"We see the review as an attempt to protect a subclass of workers from being exploited that isn't found in the IT industry, in our experience."
ACS Chairman, Kumar Parakala, said the society was also very pleased with the results of the report.
“We’re cautiously optimistic in the execution of the report’s recommendations. The shift to market based salaries is an important move for the industry, though the government needs to be careful in the implementation to determine what the acceptable market salary is for each ICT job,” he said.