A trial visa scheme aimed at helping tech companies lure skilled technology workers to Australia has been made permanent after the federal government deemed the pilot successful.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman announced the continuation of the ‘global talent scheme’, first launched in July 2018, on Thursday.
The program, which has been renamed the ‘global talent – employer sponsored program’ (GTES), gives businesses the ability to sponsor highly-skilled overseas workers for positions that can’t be filled locally.
It was introduced under the tightened temporary skills shortage (TSS) visa that replaced the 457 visa in August 2017, though is conditional on employers showing that their existing Australian workers would benefit as a result of visa being granted.
The program is split into two streams: established businesses with more than $4 million in annual turnover and tech start-ups.
Larger businesses are able to apply for up to 20 positions paying more than $180,000 per year, while start-ups can apply to an independent GTES start-up advisory panel for up to five.
The decision to continue the program comes after a review conducted by the Department of Home Affairs determined the pilot has been “successful”.
“The pilot showed the GTES has strong support from industry and highlighted the economic benefits of recruiting overseas talent directly to Australian businesses,” Coleman said in a statement.
“These highly-skilled overseas workers bring with them unique skills and knowledge that are transferred to Australian businesses, allowing for the creation of further jobs for Australians.”
However, as reported by InnovationAus.com, numerous issues plagued the trial, particularly the start-up stream, which did not issue a visa until eight months into the trial.
The government has now entered into 23 five-year GTES agreements with companies and start-ups so far, including with Cochlear, Q-CRTL, Rio Tinto, Atlassian, Coles, Serco, Emesent, Pfizer, Canva and Queensland Health.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said making the program permanent would provide tech companies with the skilled workers needed to “do business here in Australia and grow”.
“We obviously want Australians employed wherever possible but this program will help tech companies to fill the gaps, while we continue to develop the skilled workforce we need,” she said.
“These highly skilled workers will not only help Australian businesses to grow but will also share knowledge with our local workforce and help to upskill their colleagues.”
StartupAUS chief Alex McCauley welcomed the decision to continue the scheme, which he said was “a sign that the government is listening to start-ups and the recommendations we have been putting forward”.
“This program provides a really valuable path to high quality visas for start-ups all over the country. Now that the pilot is over we’d like to see more companies signing up to take advantage of it.
“Although the scheme took some time to build momentum, we are pleased the government recognised the sector’s ongoing need here.”