Govt told to scrap ANZSCO skills list used for tech visas

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Govt told to scrap ANZSCO skills list used for tech visas

As Australian 'unicorn' tech companies sweat on a result.

Technology companies may no longer have to shoehorn emerging roles into "severely outdated" descriptions in order to bring in workers from overseas, if a parliamentary committee's recommendations are implemented.

The committee [pdf] urged the federal government to ditch the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) list in order to better meet current skills needs.

ANZSCO is a list of occupations that forms the basis for the current skilled migration program. The last major change to the list was back in 2006.

Major technology companies joined organisations from across a range of sectors in criticising the list, and blaming it for hiring difficulties.

“The ANZSCO definition of the nominated occupations does not align well with the new roles being created every day by the tech industry, which have evolved well beyond the current classifications,” Atlassian and Canva said in a joint submission.

“Many roles were not in existence when the ANZSCO lists were created in the 1990s and therefore the ANZSCO lists fail to capture the specific roles in the tech industry that companies are in desperate need of.”

Another submitter, Mark Glazbrook, noted that "if an occupation is not listed on ANZSCO, the federal government will be unable to report on the occupation being in demand as technically it does not exist", potentially exascerbating skills shortages in particular domains.

The parliamentary migration committee recommended that a new occupation and/or skills identification system that offers the flexibility to adapt to emerging labour market needs be developed by the National Skills Commission to replace ANZSCO.

It agreed with a “large number of submitters and witnesses who put the view that ANZSCO is severely outdated” and recommended the Australian Bureau of Statistics - which manages the list - throw it out.

While the ABS is already working on a “targeted” update of ANZSCO, a “more fundamental change is required” to address “continuing problems faced by skilled migrants in new and emerging occupations and the Australian employers seeking these skills”.

“In the committee’s view this [targeted update] does not go far enough. The committee sees value in shifting to a new approach to underpin the skilled migration lists,” the committee said in the report.

“ANZSCO was not designed to underpin the various skilled migration lists, and its shortcomings have been amply revealed by the long period in which ABS has not undertaken a comprehensive update.

“In the committee’s view simply adapting the existing ANZSCO approach to inform skills lists will not help to solve the long-term problems with its use.”

The committee added that industry specific standards could “assist to provide the flexibility and responsiveness that can only be provided by a bespoke occupation list that has been designed specifically to cater to emerging labour market needs”.

Other recommendations

Elsewhere in the report, the committee recommended that Home Affairs “change visa conditions for the short-term stream of the temporary skills shortage (TSS) visa (subclass 482) to provide a pathway to permanent residency for temporary migrants”.

“The committee received a large amount of evidence advocating for clearer and more consistent pathways to permanent residency, particularly in relation to applicants for the short-term stream of the TSS,” the report said.

“The evidence received notes that this step would provide clarity for skilled migrants, which in turn would allow sponsors to both access the skills they need through the migration system, and have more certainty about the long-term result that can be expected from committing to the time and expense required to sponsor a skilled migrant.

“In the current circumstances, where Australia is competing with similar countries such as Canada for the pool of potential migrants, this reform would assist in maintaining Australia’s international competitiveness.”

The report recommends that the “government enable intra-company transfer of executive employees of multinational companies to Australia where necessary for these companies to expand their operations in Australia”.

It said that this measure would exempt from labour market testing, but “should be subject to other strict integrity measures”, with consideration to be given to “whether a separate visa category is necessary”.

The committee also recommends that the government consolidate the medium and long term strategic skills list (MLTSSL) and short term skilled occupation list (STSOL) into one skilled occupation list (SOL).

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