The controversial changes to Australia's 457 visas have drawn criticism and skepticism from many of Australia's leading entrepreneurs and leaders in the startup industry, including Expert360's Bridget Loudon, whose comments were featured in both Business Insider and the Australian. Although suggesting that it was difficult to predict the impact of the change, Loudon said it was safe to say that many of Australia's leading startups might be forced to move their headquarters to the US or Europe. "The talent gap in Australia is a major concern for businesses and this move simply creates more uncertainty for skilled workers who might have considered bringing their talent to Australia,” said Loudon, Expert360's co-founder and CEO. “While top global talent is in the making in our schools and training programs, there are still shortfalls that sponsored workers have helped fill, particularly in the technology sector." “In fact, 457 visas have played a big part in helping us grow so significantly over the past four years and it would be a shame if other high-growth businesses would not be able to achieve that same level of success because of these changes.”
Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes, whose tech company is worth more than Qantas, told The Australian 457s were “essential” for Australia, and that any move to make bridging the talent gap more difficult would be bad for the country.
“We’ve got about 1000 people in Sydney, and about 25 per cent of the Australian staff are on 457s, maybe a bit over that,” he said in an interview.
“What we lack is experience. The biggest thing we lack is senior technical talent with deep experience in the volumes that we need for the industry to keep growing. Every single start-up has very similar problems once they start to scale. And the biggest gap the 457s fill are the people that come in — the guys and girls who come in — have spent 10 years in a Silicon Valley company or a great European company and they come in and train the grads.”
Startups are not the only companies set to feel the potential pinch of 457 visa changes. According to Expert360's Getting Trendy report, 80% of large corporations are already experiencing a talent shortage despite the existing ability to lure top overseas talent with offerings of working visas.
With the changes made to 457 visas, large companies will look to increase their use of on demand, temporary talent rather than finding longer term specialist talent from overseas. According to Expert360's report, large organisations are already increasing their use of contingent workers, with 48% of companies surveyed indicating that they will have more than 20% contingent staff by 2020.
Specialist skills that 457 visa holders often bring to companies are becoming increasingly important. 62% of large corporations surveyed by Expert360 indicated that specialist skills will be “extremely important” by 2020. We expect that temporary talent will be used increasingly to fill these specialist talent gaps as more jobs are awarded to Australian workers.
Read the full article in the Australian, here (paywall).