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Shortage in NBN apartment cablers: recruiter

Stephanie McDonald | May 2, 2013
A recruitment firm for the National Broadband Network (NBN) said there is a shortage of cablers to connect apartments to the network.

457 visas

Data released on Sunday on 457 visas, a temporary working visa, revealed an overall increase of 19.2 per cent for the visa, compared to the same time last year.

The Federal Government recently announced a crackdown on the visas to ensure local job seekers do not miss out on jobs, with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard targeting the IT industry.

"It is just not acceptable that information technology jobs, the quintessential jobs of the future, the very opportunities being created by the digital economy, precisely where the big picture is for our kids, should be such a big area of imported skills," she said.

Earl defended the use of 457 visas in the IT industry and said while any system is flawed and there may be some rorting, he believes in most cases the visas are being used correctly.

"Unfortunately I think it's just become one of those political footballs and political parties are using things for point scoring and it's just a shame. But it's never too late to get things right," he said.

"I think [the IT industry] was just a soft target ... Sometimes you can get a bit of paranoia sometimes and people [say] 'Aussies are losing their jobs' and that sort of stuff, which is nonsense. All the evidence suggests that if you bring smart people into any country or economy, the whole place prospers."

The debate around the IT skills shortage -- and whether there is one -- has been circulating for some time.

Westpac's CIO Clive Whincup has claimed the bank looks to offshore its IT labour because there "simply aren't enough people" in Australia with the right skills for certain roles.

However, Andrew Cross, managing director of IT recruitment firm Ambition Technology, has said there is not necessarily an IT skills shortage, but more of a problem with employers narrowing their candidate requirements too much.

Earl said the IT skills shortage is evident at Talent International by some jobs taking a long time to fill, depending on the client.

"We're really talking about software development applications, development solutions architects, so the specific skills sets that might be Java or certain Microsoft products or Oracle, SAP, that type of thing," he said.

"Some [jobs] can be unfilled full stop. That, of course, will hinder the rollout or development of particular projects."

Earl believes part of the answer for the shortage is for analysis to be undertaken on where exactly the shortage is and a blueprint to be developed, which should be carried out in a bipartisan approach by the government.

Adam Redman, head, policy and external affairs, at the Australian Computer Society, said the organisation would support a blueprint analysis and said it has previously spoken to the government around the need for a policy.


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