With Defence Industry being required to grow significantly over the next decade, we are going to need to look for ways of growing our experienced workforce. Here are a few thoughts relating to overseas workers.
On the face of it, you may not think that the recent changes in immigration visas will have much effect on the Defence Sector. Department of Immigration and Border Protection data shows that Primary 457 visa holders account for 0.8% of the overall Australian workforce, and you can reasonably assume that the number is much lower in the Defence Sector. However, if you think about it, how many projects are slated that will require massive amounts of knowledge and technology transfer from overseas companies? Government must be careful not to inhibit industry from accommodating the expat workers required. A lesser consideration is that without an ultimate path to citizenship, will a move here be less attractive to workers?
That old chestnut. Over the years, I have seen many, many expat workers with very rare skill sets have to return to their home country because they have not been able to secure employment here solely because local industry is unable to get them a security clearance. This is despite each individual usually operating under a waiver as they are cleared in their home country. I’m not saying that one country’s clearance should automatically translate to another, but the ADF seems to cope with this under very similar circumstances with transfers from other country’s armed forces, and industry is missing a valuable source of potential recruits.
I have seen many of our engineering and project management professionals make the move overseas when our Defence Industry contracted from 2010-2016. These people will have gained invaluable overseas experience that they can combine with their previous Australian experience, and we now have the challenging opportunities that will entice them back.
Any way that we can efficiently grow the industry gene pool will ultimately help us reduce risk and cost, and being innovative with the way we access the global supply of talent is an obvious place to look.
By Rob Kremer