The need for Australian companies to source ICT talent from overseas is stronger than ever, with the local pipeline continuing to fall short.
That was the message from Telstra CEO Andy Penn, who delivered a strongly-worded address at the Committee for Economic Development Australia in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“We need to build new skills and capabilities in new areas,” he said.
“We need these capabilities now, but the fact is we cannot find in Australia enough of the skills that we need on the scale that we need them, such as software engineers.
“Why? There simply are not enough of them. The pipeline is too small.”
In anticipation of the impending local ICT talent shortfall – which Penn said he expects to be 60,000 skilled workers short in the next five years – Telstra will this year open a new ‘Innovation and Capability Centre’ in Bangalore, India.
Labelling Bangalore as “India’s ‘Silicon Valley’”, Penn said the move would consolidate Telstra’s presence in India, where it has been operating since 2011.
Penn also called for a cease to the “negative commentary around immigration”.
“We need to build skills, not walls.”
He pointed to the associated benefits that come with “a well-targeted skilled migration policy”, arguing this would create – not take away – jobs.
“Skilled migrants also add to Australia’s wealth,” he explained.
“Research by the International Monetary Fund estimated Australia’s migration program would add up to 1% to annual average GDP growth from 2020 to 2050 because it focused on skilled migrants of working age and would limit the economic impact of Australia’s ageing population.”