Aussie government IT drives demand for Brits

A series of major IT programmes by the Australian government are opening up new opportunities for British IT professionals who are prepared to emigrate.

A series of major IT programmes by the Australian government are opening up new opportunities for British IT professionals who are prepared to emigrate.

The Australian government is fast-tracking IT professionals who have key technical skills as it seeks to encourage qualified IT staff into the country to work on private and public sector projects.

This month the Australian government added C++, C#, Java, ­Oracle, and Peoplesoft to the migration ­"occupations in demand" list of skills, opening up the way for more UK IT professionals to apply for ­visas. Security skills, including CISSP, network security, Siebel, and SAP also feature on the list.

The country is proving popular for IT professionals with young families who are looking for a better quality of life, said Oonagh Baerveldt, immigration specialist at consultancy Visa Bureau.

"The outdoor lifestyle is very attractive, particularly for people with young families.

"The affordability of buying a home is attractive to people starting out in their careers," she said.

The upturn in demand for IT ­professionals follows the decision by government agencies to move away from outsourcing towards getting the work done in Australia. Projects set up by the Australian Departments of Defence, Immigration, and Workplace Relations, have led to shortages of skilled staff.

Most of the vacancies are in Canberra and Adelaide. The New South Wales government's four-year project to consolidate back-office systems is also creating openings. "There are hundreds of projects and each of them need a few hundred people. There is a limited supply of skilled people in Australia," said Baerveldt.

To qualify, IT professionals need to be under 45, and have strong ­English language skills. They must provide evidence of their skills and experience, including references from former employers.

Over the past year, 20,000 UK and Irish nationals have moved to Australia, which is double the number in 1990, said Baerveldt.

Case study: In search of a better quality of life

Neil Towler, a specialist in compliance regulation and SAP, plans to take his wife and two children to Australia within the next 18 months.

The promise of a better quality of life, a good education system and less commuting are among the attractions.

"The area I am looking at is Melbourne. In terms of job opportunities, it would be equivalent to London, but it has a much more laid-back family lifestyle," he said.

Towler, who is self employed, does not have a job lined up, but he is confident that he will find one quickly when he arrives.

"I have a broad skill set which is in demand here. They don't put your skills on the demand list and fast track your visa application for nothing," he said.

Normally migration to Australia is difficult for people who do not have relatives over there already. But because Towler's skills appear on the government's skills shortlist, he has been able to gain enough points to qualify for a fast track visa.

He plans to rent a house initially, before taking advantage of tax relief offered for first time house buyers.

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