June 28, 2022
Australia is a country that has grown and thrived on migration. Migrants grow the population, the economy and the skills base, as well as deepen and broaden the culture. Migrants by their nature are generally pro-active, self-starters with open minds and new ideas. Statistically, they also tend to be younger and better educated than the population at large.
All these factors make migration an important element to the startup culture in Australia. However, the key issue in this field right now is the lack of skilled migration. The ‘doors’ of Australia have technically been open for over six months. In practice, the backlogs in visa processing are creating very significant skills shortages in Australia. Information Age reported that processing times have blown out to anything from nine to 15 months. This isn’t just overwhelming demand, its budget cuts of $875 million, just when the economy needs these people the most.
These shortages are biting the startup sector. Without the skills to make entrepreneurs’ ideas a reality, or grow their businesses, the recovery will be weaker. The reality is also that if those skills can’t get into Australia quickly, they will be snapped up by another country that can get those ‘boots on the ground’. Australia’s attempts to diversify its economy, including becoming a financial centre, cannot progress without a serious influx of particularly IT skills. Our competitiveness on the global stage will be further eroded. That will impede our long term ambitions as a society.
The startup sector is dispersed by its nature, it’s not an ‘industry’ with a single voice. So, Stoic and other key stakeholders in the ecosystem need to help raise issues of importance.
The new Minister for Immigration is said to be ‘thinking about the policy options’ but is also assessing those to ‘make sure that the short-term action… is consistent with a vision of re-building the economy, re-building and re-skilling Australian jobs, and boosting our economy into the future’. We agree and believe that means prioritising this right now.
On behalf of the startup sector, we call on the new government to boost visa processing to ease the skills shortages, and other labour market pressures in our service sector, that are impeding this country’s recovery and long term health. We also believe that restarting the Significant Investor Visa is critical ingredient in getting new venture capital funding for startups. This can’t wait until the Federal Budget in the spring.
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