Qualified visa changes will damage the cyber skills pipeline | information age

What do you mean by Australia no longer prioritizing cyber professionals? Photo: Shutterstock

‘Surprised’ ICT industry bodies question the wisdom of a federal government decision to cut recruitment of cybersecurity specialists and programmers by removing 27 positions from the official list of jobs used to prioritize jobs qualified visas.

Home Affairs and Cybersecurity Minister Clare O’Neil has made the changes to the Priority Migration Skilled Occupations List (PMSOL) to help clear up the backlog of skilled visa applications which, she told the FRGadded up to 45 minutes to processing each request.

Amid massive backlogs in processing skilled migrant visas, the government committed $36.1 million to clear the backlog of visa applications and finalized 745,000 visa applications in June and July this year alone, including 9,550 temporary qualified visitor visas.

This number has since grown to 43,000 temporary qualified visas and 47,000 applications for permanent qualified visas approved to date.

The new framework groups professional roles into four categories, with priority given to health and education professions, applications from accredited employers and applications from regional Australia.

Despite O’Neil’s claims that streamlining PMSOL would reduce visa processing times, the elimination of several ICT-related positions – including ICT security specialists, analyst programmers, developer programmers, software engineers and software and applications programmers – was incongruous given the impact of the recent spate of cybersecurity breaches that have plagued organizations such as Medibank, Optus, Woolworths subsidiary MyDeal, Vinomofo, Toyota , Telstra and contractor ADF ForceNet.

Compromised companies have been scrambling to catch up with cybercriminals, but the industry has long suffered from a chronic shortage of cybersecurity specialists – and the recent surge in attacks is further increasing demand from an estimated 30,000 cybersecurity specialists. additional cybersecurity by 2026 – industry bodies were questioning the wisdom of deprioritizing cyber and other severely deficient skills.

“Given the chronic shortage of technology skills in Australia, ACS is surprised that IT visas are no longer a priority,” said ACS CEO Chris Vein, “particularly given the important role that technology plays in the provision of health and education services which the government clearly intends to support with these changes.”

The opposition wasted no time in jumping on the flip side of politics, with Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Dan Tehan calling it “amazing that Australia is facing a growing threat from cyber criminals and crooks that Labor has removed… cybersecurity related roles from PMSOL, making it harder for companies to bring talented cyber professionals to this country to work.

“Whose interests are served by making it harder for Australian businesses to bring cyber experts to this country to work to protect Australian citizens and their data,” Tehan asked. “Australians need more cyber protection, not less.”

Is the technology sector losing its primacy?

The changes to PMSOL come just weeks after O’Neil welcomed the government’s decision to increase the number of permanent migrants in Australia to 195,000 a year – including 142,400 skilled migrant positions – in a move she called it “a turning point in our history as important as the post-war ‘populate or perish’ program that was the foundation of our post-war reconstruction, nation-building and national security.

The new plan, she noted at the time, “would enable state and territory governments…to respond to skills shortages and plan for future needs…. From software analysts to chefs, Australia will once again be attractive to potential workers.

With software analysts and chefs now removed from the list of priority visa applicants – along with other in-demand jobs including accountants, engineers, vets and chief executives – some questioned the strength of genuine commitment of the government towards skilled migration, particularly in light of Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Andrew Giles says that “the Albanian government is committed to restoring immigration as a function government of nation-building”.

The PMSOL changes highlight the risks of trying to address Australia’s IT skills gap using migration, Vein said, and in doing so reminded that “Australia must also work on building capacity of our national workforce, encouraging businesses to invest in cutting-edge technology and encouraging students to embark on STEM careers.

The government has recently backed a range of support mechanisms to boost the development of cyber and ICT skills, with recent government policy decisions related to skills including a commitment of $60 million for cybersecurity training grants. and support for university education initiatives, and efforts to improve Indian access. talent thanks to the equivalence of certifications.

Last year, the former Morrison government actually expanded PMSOL to help cybersecurity better target its recruiting and skills development efforts.

Industry figures had reacted warmly to previous government efforts to close the skills gap by boosting the migration of skilled people.

“We welcome government initiatives to boost training in priority industries while responsibly using migration to alleviate current critical skills and labor shortages,” said company director Roy Lovli. IT consulting firm Kyndryl Consult, following a recent federal budget that he said left him “reassured to see the federal government embracing skills development and putting such an emphasis on enable Australia to be more technologically sophisticated to help future-proof our economy.”

Leave a Reply