Australian needs more IT professionals
The man behind one of Australia’s most successful hi-tech firms says the nation risks becoming a technology backwater within 20 years unless the government puts in place “smart policies’’ to allow local companies to import “masses’’ of the best workers from Silicon Valley.
Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, who has been a vocal critic of government policies in the technology sector, said Australia had no alternative but to import huge volumes of o¬ffshore talent to help nurture successful entrepreneurs and generate world-class, locally made ideas. “You can’t generate experience,” he told The Australian in an interview for the Cracking the Code series, in partnership with GE. “I can’t take a super-smart engineer out of a computer science program in university here and say, ‘Great, go to Silicon Valley for 10 years, learn it, school of hard knocks, get all the scars and come back and figure out how to run a 100-person engineering group, or a product team, or whatever’. We don’t have that in this country and so we need to import it, there’s no other way to get it.”
Atlassian, which makes software development and collaboration tools targeted at developers, has been one of the few Australian technology success stories on the global stage and is now worth about $US3 6) Australian needs more IT professionals billion ($4.3bn).
Mr Cannon-Brookes’s comments come amid a fierce debate over the future of the 457 visa scheme, which is already being used to bring foreign workers from the information and communications technology sectors into Australia.
Labor has also aired concerns about aspects of the China-Australia free-trade agreement, claiming that it lacks critical safeguards to protect Australian jobs from imported workers, particularly on major projects. Asked about the political implications of bringing in more foreign technology workers, Mr Cannon-Brookes said: “Well, how are we going to solve this problem? “Technology is the largest industry in the world now. It’s only opening up a bigger and bigger gap on No 2, which is finance. And it’s becoming more a part of every single company’s competitiveness. “Therefore, if you look forward 20 years, it’s going to become a bigger and bigger part of the entire economy’s competitiveness for Australia. “And we’re already seeing ourselves going backwards down all the various league tables because we’re not investing enough in technology as an economy. ‘’If we’re just consuming technology as an economy, we’re stuff¬ed in 20 years’ time vik criminal lawyer san diego. We need to be producing our own IP (intellectual property) in technology as a country.’’
Mr Cannon-Brookes’s comments were backed by local technology investor Tony Faure, the former managing director of Yahoo in Australia and New Zealand and former chief executive of nineMSN. Mr Faure slammed the lack of government action on implementing a meaningful innovation system that could be used to encourage and foster start-up talent in Australia.
Speaking as part of a panel of entrepreneurs, investors and engineers, Mr Faure said it was twice as hard for Australians to succeed as technology entrepreneurs as it was for their counterparts in the US and Israel. The panel for the Cracking the Code series also lamented the severe shortage of engineers and software developers in Australia, saying the education system’s failure to educate students in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) was holding back the nation from becoming a serious player on the global technology stage.
Google’s engineering director, Alan Noble, said Australia was failing to produce enough STEM and computer science graduates to compete with its global competitors. “We know there’s a strong correlation between those technical disciplines and start-up formation rates down the track,’’ he said. “These are the types of graduates that will create those types of companies, and we’re way, way, way behind most of our competitive countries.”
(Source: The Australian newspaper)