ICT recruitment firm, Peoplebank, has signed an On-Hire Labour Agreement with the Federal Government, giving it a streamlined process for hiring international contractors under the 457 visa program.
As part of the deal, Peoplebank is permitted to recruit overseas staff for enterprise and government clients to work on specific projects that have skills shortages. In return for expedited visa applications, the recruiter must take responsibility for the contractors’ immigration process. On-Hire Labour Agreements were introduced after changes were made in October last year to tighten the visa process.
"You had to go through quite a lengthy process with multiple submissions," Peoplebank COO, Peter Acheson, said.
Candidates sourced under the deal could be working in Australia within “a few weeks”.
"Probably not in the next 12 months, but we would be expecting to bring in during a normal year between 150 and 200 people," Acheson said. "Obviously with the economic circumstances we are in at the moment, there is less demand from clients to bring people in and there are more local candidates available.
"We believe it will obviously be in the areas where there are skills shortages within IT. There is still a shortage with .NET and J2EE programmers and there is still a shortage of good business analysts with a financial background. That is what we mean by specific skillsets where there are clearly shortages."
The Australian Computer Society (ACS) has also predicted Australia's ICT skills shortage will reach 14,500 full-time staff by 2010.
Acheson claimed the Government's National Broadband Network (NBN) plan, which predicted up to 25,000 additional jobs, would also need overseas hires to help fill skills gaps.
"The last major rollout of this type was the Optus rollout in the early 1990s," he said. "They rolled out a massive amount of cable over a couple of years. But if you talk to the people at Optus ultimately responsible for that rollout, they will tell you there was a shortage of people with the right skillsets, which were more civil engineering."
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Additionally, as part of the agreement, Peoplebank will provide training, IT scholarships and other initiatives to address Australia’s ICT skills shortages. In a statement, the recruiter advised an approved expenditure plan for this program will be announced in coming months.