The $100,000 job no Australian is qualified to do
THINK you can fill a role by advertising it at the right price? Think again. This industry can't find anyone to do the work it needs.
DEAN McEvoy has a conundrum.
The businesses he works with as CEO of IT industry group TechSydney have jobs to fill.
They're cool companies. The tech start-ups he works with share the values — innovation, flexibility, social conscience — that young people look for in an employer, and the pay’s not bad either.
A senior product manager for an equivalent company in Silicon Valley could rake in upwards of $300,000. At a smaller Aussie start-up the pay wouldn’t be at that quite at that level, but applicants could certainly expect six figures.
The problem? No one in Australia can fill this job.
And now that the Turnbull Government has announced restrictions on which jobs can be filled by foreign workers, the industry is wondering who will do the work, and how it will survive.
Atlassian CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes estimates of his company’s Australian staff, at least 25 per cent would be on 457 visas. According to the IT Professionals Association, in the past decade, the number of 457 visas for IT workers has risen by 136 per cent
The government argues that changes need to be made so that workers aren’t being exploited and that Australians should be trained to qualify for those jobs.
But Mr McEvoy argues the tech industry’s dilemma proves that you can’t just attract homegrown, quality workers by throwing money at them. In some cases, the skills genuinely need to be imported.
“The thing to understand about the growing of fast growth technology company is it takes a very different skills set than the companies that exist already within the industry in Australia,” Mr McEvoy told news.com.au.
“Some of these are skills that can’t really be taught, you only get them through experience. So the best way to learn is only by doing, and the only people who have done these jobs, at the moment, are overseas.”
The role that’s most in demand and that Aussie tech employers would currently look to fill by a worker on a 457 visa, is a product manager.
“It’s basically the person who is the nexus between the engineering talent, the designers and the customer. They kind of put it all together to make it all work,” Mr McEvoy said describing the role. “It’s a very hard skill to learn except by doing it, so that role would be filled by someone who has a background engineer or design and who is quite senior.”
A good product manager, depending on the company they work for and the scope of their responsibility, could expect to earn $300,000 in the US Mr McEvoy said, while an Australian company could potentially offer between $100,000 — $200,000 for the position.
Senior engineers, software developers and growth marketing specialists are also in high demand by Australian companies who can’t find local talent to fill the positions.
Mr McEvoy said that while the industry expects to be able to employ Australians in the majority of its senior roles in the not too distance future, until those tech heads work their way through the education system and get the right experience, Aussie companies have no choice but to look offshore.
“We fully agree there is a desperate need for more Australians to be trained in STEM subjects,” he said, adding: “Any plans to cut back on the tech industry’s ability to bring in expertise from overseas before more Australians have been adequately trained in IT will only harm the industry and the future of jobs in this country.”
In order for growing tech companies to be successful, and to keep Australia competitive in that space, he warns, they need to import talent.
“I think the key message is not just for the industry but for the country. Other cities and countries are investing super heavily in this industry. If we don’t work this out, we fall behind,” he said. “We either have a choice as a country, or we wonder in 10 years time why we have no jobs at all.”
20 April 2017 -