CIOs, IT industry win big in govt's 457 backdown

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CIOs, IT industry win big in govt's 457 backdown

Following industry backlash.

Chief information officers and the wider IT industry have emerged as winners from the federal government's revised list of occupations eligible for skilled visas.

The federal government's April scrapping of the former 457 skilled visa program in favour of a new temporary migration scheme was met with backlash from industry groups that claimed the scheme would disincentivise talent from coming to work in Australia.

The new scheme drastically reduced the list of previously eligible positions for the new two-year and four-year visa classes.

It also removed the option for permanent residency under the two-year scheme - the category in which chief information and executive officers had been placed.

Many of Australia's top IT executives are employed on 457 visas - such as NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow - and would be affected by the changes once their current terms expire, as new two-year visa holders can only apply for one onshore renewal.

Business groups claimed the government had created "uncertainty and nervousness" amongst candidates for senior roles.

The government was also criticised for placing IT security specialists in the crippled two-year category at a time when the country is grappling with a significant IT security skills shortage.

But the government today revealed it has revised the list of those eligible under its new skilled work scheme in response to the feedback.

It has moved CIOs and CEOs out from the two-year category and into the four-year visa class, which allows them to apply for onshore renewal and permanent residency after three years from March 2018.

IT security specialists will also enjoy the same options, having similarly been moved up the ladder.

They join many of the IT specialists that had previously been relegated to the two-year category.

Newly eligible for a four-year skilled visa are ICT business analysts, systems analysts, developer/ programmers, software engineers, software and application programmers, computer network and systems engineers, telecommunications engineers, telco network engineers, telco field engineers, and technologists.

Many of these positions are now only available under the four-year class, where previously they were listed in both visa options.

In the two-year class are the roles of ICT trainer, ICT account manager, ICT business development manager, systems administrator, network administrator, ICT project manager, ICT sales representative, web developer, software tester, ICT support engineer, ICT systems test engineer, network analyst, ICT QA engineer, ICT customer support officer, web administrator, ICT support technician, cable telecommunications linesworker, telco cabler, database administrator, ICT manager, hardware technician, and web designer.

Two years work experience is required with the positions of ICT project managers, ICT sales representatives, web developers, software testers, ICT support engineers, and ICT systems test engineers. The role of telco network planner has been removed entirely.

The new lists are effective from July 1. Existing 457 visa holders are protected by grandfathering arrangements.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton said the updated lists would allow employers to recruit foreign workers for high-demand occupations where there are skills shortages locally.

He said the lists were designed to be dynamic.

"The government recognises the importance of enabling Australian businesses to tap into global talent to remain internationally competitive and support a strong national science and innovation agenda," he said in a statement.

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