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Employment Relations, Immigration

New guide offers billion dollar solution to tech talent gap

Settlement Services International (SSI) and the Australian Computer Society (ACS) 4 mins read
BDB IT
 
Report finds recognising refugees’ and migrants’ skills would boost economy. 
 

An employer guide released today outlines ten tips employers can take to fill the growing tech skills gap by maximising employment opportunities for skilled refugee and migrant professionals, who are an untapped solution to the rapidly growing tech skills gap.  

The Billion Dollar Benefit: Welcoming Tech Talent guide, developed by non-profit SSI and the Australian Computer Society (ACS), offers practical tips for employers to recruit and retain newcomer talent to the tech sector, which needs around 60,000 tech workers to meet the industry’s growing demands. 

Just 7,000 students graduate with IT degrees each year, leaving employers quick to look overseas for tech talent, but there is already a skilled and motivated workforce closer to home, according to SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.  

“Talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not. Many migrants and refugees in Australia are highly skilled and bring a wealth of tech expertise, qualifications and experience from their countries of origin. They just need the opportunity to showcase those tech skills in workplaces,” Ms Roumeliotis said. 

“While tech is the fourth most common pre-migration qualification held by migrants in Australia, only 2 per cent of skilled migrants are currently working in the sector.”  

“This is a missed opportunity for everyone, and the Welcoming Tech Talent guide serves as a practical toolkit for businesses to embrace the full diversity of tech talent in Australia.”  

Syrian-born Abd Almassih Alsaad is one of the many refugee IT professionals who have faced significant barriers when pursuing his profession in Australia. Despite a more than 20-year career in IT as a programmer and business owner, and experience with prominent corporations and government entities, Abd has been unsuccessful in gaining even unpaid positions.  

“I’ve found that many IT employers won’t acknowledge a degree from overseas, thinking it’s not strong enough, and often insist on a local degree from Australia,” he said. “I am even being rejected for volunteering unpaid roles in the industry.” 

Chris Vein, CEO of Australian Computer Society said: “Chris Vein, ACS Chief Executive Officer, said: “this report highlights the contribution migrants make to the Australian economy. In the tech sector, with our chronic shortage of skilled workers, we need to ensure we are making the most of the talents and experience of recent arrivals from overseas. 

“As we highlighted in our 2023 Digital Pulse survey of the nation’s tech skills, we are facing a major crisis as Australia struggles to meet the challenges of the AI-driven economy and we need all parts of the community – government, business and education – to come together to come up with a co-ordinated strategy that realises the potential of all Australians.” 

The guide focuses on businesses and employers encouraging a culture of questioning unconscious biases, focusing on skills – rather than specific qualifications, engaging experts to roll out diversity training, using inclusive language in recruitment ads, and other practical ways to become welcoming workplaces. 

The employer guide has been endorsed by LinkedIn, as part of the company’s efforts to create economic opportunity for every member of the workforce, including refugees and migrants. 

Key messages from the Billion Dollar Benefit report: 

  1. Australian tech employers are in a race to fill the 60,000 skilled positions needed to keep up the booming sector’s workforce demands. 

  1. Skilled refugees and migrants are a largely untapped pool of tech talent that can fill critical skill shortages and bolster the potential growth of the sector.  

  1. By implementing ten simple tips, the tech sector can unleash the full economic potential of skilled refugees and migrants and, in doing so, expand the growth horizons for the entire industry 

  1. Migrants and refugees are strong contributors to the economy and productive employees, with 85% of Australian employers rating refugee staff as equally or more productive than the wider workforce, but many have unrealised potential.  

  1. We all benefit when all migrants are able to reach their full economic and professional potential in Australia. 

Statistics from the report:  

  1. 60,000 tech workers are needed in Australia each year 

  1. Only 7,000 students graduate with IT degrees in Australia each year 

  1. 1 in 3 occupations experiencing shortages are related to ICT 

  1. 4th most common pre-migration qualification held by migrants in Australia is IT (12%) 

  1. Only 2% of skilled migrants in Australia work in the ICT sector 

  1. 1 in 4 permanent skilled migrants work below their skill level 
    85%+ of Australian employers report their refugee employees are as productive or more productive than the rest of their workforce 

Additional case studies:  

Tracy Tran 

Available for interview in Darwin up until 28 November, available in Sydney on 30 November  

Key quote: “I got into the IT Code Fair employer…speed dating. In there, I got to present myself and meet the employers. And I got the job. And it sounded exciting.” 

Location: Darwin  

Country of Birth: Vietnam 

Year migrated to AUS:2018 

Current Employer: NT Government 

Current Role: Digital Manager 

Qualifications: Bachelors Supply Chain Management ,Vietnam and Masters in IT, Darwin 

Con Stepanov 

Available for interview in Adelaide up until 29 November, available in Sydney on 30 November 

Key quote: "Immigrants always have a feeling that they are not good enough. It's the mindset of being an immigrant that is inhibiting in a way." 

Location: Adelaide 

Country of Birth: Russia 

Year migrated to AUS: 2019 

Current Employer: Finders University 

Current Role: Cyber Security Specialist 

Qualifications: Master in Information Technology, Flinders University 

 


About us:

About SSI: 

Settlement Services International (SSI) delivers a range of human services that connect individuals, families, and children from diverse backgrounds with opportunities - including settlement support, disability programs, community engagement initiatives and training and employment pathways. At the heart of everything we do is a drive for equality, empathy, and celebration of every individual.  

About ACS: 

ACS is the voice of Australia’s technology sector, representing over 47,000 technology professionals across all industries and across the nation. 

Our members work in industry, education, government, and the community delivering the digital services that drive the nation and provide the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow. 

ACS works to grow the technology sector while making sure IT professionals act ethically, responsibly, and in keeping with the best interests of not only their employers, but the wider community. 

Through our network of branches in every state and Territory, our innovation labs, education programs and our history of over fifty years, ACS works to help all Australians be part of the nation’s highest growth sector. Visit www.acs.org.au for more information. 


Contact details:

 

SSI:

Jordan wood, Senior Communications Officer. 

M: 0403 082 926 E: jwood@ssi.org.au 

ACS:

Troy Steer 

Director of Corporate Affairs and Public Policy 

M – 0417 173 740 

E – troy.steer@acs.org.au  

 

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