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Australian IT Workers Concerned About Migrants 406

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the same-story-the-world-over dept.
sien writes "In Australia it is being asserted that Australia's intake of migrants skilled in IT is taking jobs and lowering wages for Australian citizens. It appears that in all developed countries, not just the US, the case that immigrants are lowering wages for IT workers is being made. Would programmers in the developed world be better off without immigration that favors IT or is there an overall benefit for the industry with skilled workers going to the developed world and thus making the industry larger?"
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Australian IT Workers Concerned About Migrants

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  • Oh geez.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by vishbar (862440) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:39AM (#14433734)
    Here comes the deluge of South Park "They took our jobs!" quotes...
     
    fp?
    • by nmoog (701216) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:42AM (#14433747) Homepage Journal
      Well, speaking as an IT Professional in Australia I can safetly say... Dey Turk Er Jerbbs!!!!
      • Re:Oh geez.... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by ThePhilips (752041)
        Why people in wealthy countries never think of moving into developing countries?

        Thou I haven't tried that by myself ;-)

        Freinds of mine - married couple of Uni teachers - were working in North Africa (Marocco & Alger) for about 10 years. When they came back I only hear them complaining how much they earn here but can buy literally nothing. Situation in Africa was different: they were earning little, but most of things costed next to nothing. In Africa they were top - here they are just average. (They cam
    • No Southpark here. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by raehl (609729) <raehl311@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @07:05AM (#14434527) Homepage
      It's an extreme example, but we used to have laws that made it illegal for black people to learn to read. Why? God forbid a black person should achieve the same ability to do a job as a white person.

      We can't (ethically) prevent other people on this planet from educating themselves. We shouldn't (economically) prevent them from doing so either - a world with 50 million educated engineers is better than a world with 50 million people who can't read.

      Australians (and Americans) don't lose jobs to immigrants because of migration. They lose jobs to them because the other person is better at doing the job, despite the inherent advantages they have in language and culture.

      I work with immigrant engineering workers on a regular basis. These guys wern't born in the US, their families didn't speak english natively, they didn't grow up in this country - if these guys can do a job in a foriegn (to them) language, in a foreign culture, and to it better than a native.... whose fault is that? Getting (and keeping) a job is a competitive effort. I'd much rather see someone lose because the other person is better at the job than see someone lose because they were born in the wrong spot or have the wrong skin color.

      And, at least in America, immigration is GOOD. Immigration lets us get young people to help fix our demographics problem. The best way to pay for all these damned baby boomers is to let a whole bunch of 20-something, educated immigrants into the country to pay taxes to support them (instead of letting them work in India where we don't get the money for our social system.)
      • by BVis (267028) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @09:39AM (#14435075)
        They lose jobs to them because the other person is better at doing the job, despite the inherent advantages they have in language and culture.
        At the risk of sounding prejudiced, it should be noted that one of the reasons people lose jobs to immigrants (such as in this story) because frequently the immigrants (or H1-B visa holders) are willing to accept a salary significantly lower than a native worker. IMHO it's not about who's good, it's about who's cheap. (Or who's the "better value".)
    • by Alan Cox (27532) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:20AM (#14434755) Homepage
      In both cases the people doing the complaining are themselves almost all immigrants, they just got there a bit earlier.

  • A perfect world (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Da3vid (926771) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:42AM (#14433749)
    If this were a perfect world, maybe the competition would be welcome, where the most skilled would still get their high paying jobs. The problem really is in figuring out who is the most skilled. I see no reason why the most skilled shouldn't have the best jobs, and if you're the best man for the job, then more competition is no sweat, right?

    -Da3vid-
    • Re:A perfect world (Score:3, Interesting)

      by umbrellasd (876984)
      Sometimes for whatever reason, a nation might produce fewer skilled workers per capita in an industry than another nation does. But the fact is that a nation does need to protect its citizens, and an unmitigated deluge of skilled workers in an area from a nation with great capacity to produce them (perhaps they have a population that is 30 times larger) can be devastating to the local economy.

      This would be a very terrible thing, and the reason it can happen is simply that some nations have far greater po

      • Re:A perfect world (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MoralHazard (447833) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:53AM (#14433937)
        Sometimes for whatever reason, a nation might produce fewer skilled workers per capita in an industry than another nation does. But the fact is that a nation does need to protect its citizens, and an unmitigated deluge of skilled workers in an area from a nation with great capacity to produce them (perhaps they have a population that is 30 times larger) can be devastating to the local economy.

        I like this post, because you actually display more sophisicated reasoning here than most of the talk-radio types that usually complain about this phenomenon. But I would like to point out something important.

        The costs of producing something have an impact of the price of what's produced. If steel suddenly becomes more expensive, you can expect to pay more for refrigerators and cars--not quite as much more as the literal cost impact, but something approaching it. (There's some economic analysis that underlies this, but it's not important.) If the costs of production decrease, you have the opposite effect, where the cost of the product/service decreases.

        Labor is the same way, and in many industries (IT being a perfect example) labor costs are almost the entire cost of production. Sure, there are servers and ethernet cables to buy, but commodity hardware has made it so that the vast majority of IT costs are in terms of actual dollars paid for salaries, benefits, etc. to the people that run the servers, write the code, make it all happen.

        So if the market for IT jobs is suddenly or gradually flooded with people who are willing and able to work for lower wages, the costs of IT services will tend to go down, too (assuming there's some competition in the market, of course). You can buy hosted web services from lots of competiting companies, so the price of web hosting will go down. Outsourced helpdesk support will also get cheaper. The price of Windows won't necessarily go down, but that's because they have a pretty effective monopoly on desktop OS software (slightly different rules apply).

        Since IT services are a cost of doing other types of business, the costs of producing everything that relies on IT will tend to fall, too. Whether and how much depends on those particular markets and how much of their total costs are IT-related, but there will be an effect. In the end, the costs to end-consumers across the economy will go down. And it doesn't take an economist to realize that to the consumer, lower costs are the same thing as having more money.

        Like you pointed out (and this is the part I liked), this can be pretty messy if it happens overnight, because the original IT workers who are losing jobs and seeing less in their paychecks will just be SOL. Costs might be lower for everybody, but it may be a net loss the the family depending on a sysadmin's (now decreased) income. The breadwinner might have to retrain or change jobs into a new field in order to get back his/her original income level.

        But modern, 1st-world economies can absorb these changes decently well. As long as the percentage of IT workers in your work force isn't too high, and the change doesn't come too quickly, the retraining and job-switching will happen incrementally and people will have time to adjust. And it's not a zero-sum game, either--after people do adjust and retrain back to their original salary levels, they're by definition working in fields where the "home" economy has more competitive advantage, so the net economic effect is positive. Everybody gets lower prices, and (assuming people retrain to original salaries), everybody is making as much as they were before. It doesn't work out perfectly, but that's the general idea.

        Job protectionism works out to be the same moral give-and-take as any other kind of trade protectionism: if you protect the current salaries of IT workers, everybody else in the economy (including a lot of other poor, working stiffs) pays for it with higher prices. If you let the market do what it wants to do, you let the IT people take a hit in the short-medium term in exchange for greater prosperity in the economy as a whole.
        • Re:A perfect world (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Ex-MislTech (557759)
          Like you pointed out (and this is the part I liked), this can be pretty messy if it happens overnight, because the original IT workers who are losing jobs and seeing less in their paychecks will just be SOL. Costs might be lower for everybody, but it may be a net loss the the family depending on a sysadmin's (now decreased) income. The breadwinner might have to retrain or change jobs into a new field in order to get back his/her original income level.

          I like to apply the simplicity method to this .

          And to me
        • Re:A perfect world (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:37AM (#14434078)

          Labor is the same way, and in many industries (IT being a perfect example) labor costs are almost the entire cost of production. Sure, there are servers and ethernet cables to buy, but commodity hardware has made it so that the vast majority of IT costs are in terms of actual dollars paid for salaries, benefits, etc. to the people that run the servers, write the code, make it all happen.

          So if the market for IT jobs is suddenly or gradually flooded with people who are willing and able to work for lower wages, the costs of IT services will tend to go down, too (assuming there's some competition in the market, of course). You can buy hosted web services from lots of competiting companies, so the price of web hosting will go down. Outsourced helpdesk support will also get cheaper. The price of Windows won't necessarily go down, but that's because they have a pretty effective monopoly on desktop OS software (slightly different rules apply).

          The problem here is that you're conflating IT and tech workers with fungible assets (webhosting). We aren't fungible. You're also assuming that companies are rational when all available evidence points to the opposite. The presence of a large influx of cheap labor allows companies to lower salaries, true, but it also can limit the output of those workers, as talent is no longer paid what it is worth - you can hire a kid to run a bunch of servers for $12/hr and he'll do ok for normal stuff. You can hire another kid to build webapps for accounting firms (slightly higher rate here). What you can't do is build something truly innovative like google or the first browser or really reliable clustering, just to name a few things.

          Of course, the response by talent is to go found a company and try to get big or bought before some large corp crushes them with money (this is one of those nasty departures from theory), thus countering the idiots who think that all tech workers are fungible and pay accordingly.

          And it's not a zero-sum game, either--after people do adjust and retrain back to their original salary levels, they're by definition working in fields where the "home" economy has more competitive advantage, so the net economic effect is positive. Everybody gets lower prices, and (assuming people retrain to original salaries), everybody is making as much as they were before. It doesn't work out perfectly, but that's the general idea.

          What do you say to Henry Ford? He trained his workers and paid them outrageous salaries (got rich doing it, too). Fact is, a race to the bottom is generally destructive, as people don't like to change too much. You may berate them for it, but you have to deal with the realities of the situation.

          Job protectionism works out to be the same moral give-and-take as any other kind of trade protectionism: if you protect the current salaries of IT workers, everybody else in the economy (including a lot of other poor, working stiffs) pays for it with higher prices.

          I think you exaggerate too much. GM should be a shining example of what you speak, but all analysis points to shoddy management and poor quality as the cause of their problems. Overpaid workers are certainly a problem, but I think you overstate their impact.

          Now for a personal example: I build software. Working normally, my productivity can be as high as $250,000/year. In fact, it's likely within 20% of that, as that covers my salary + benefits + profit to the company. The flip side is that I could work harder and longer and double or triple my productivity. Hell, I'm pretty good - I may be able to do even more. Problem is, this would eat up all my free time and wreck my health if I did it for too long. I could also work harder and still have time for other pursuits, such as investing and ski trips. If my work figured out how to get that out of me (by measuring and rewarding), they could also make some good money. The people you describe won't do this - they want to take the whole pie and view salaries as overhead and

        • Re:A perfect world (Score:3, Insightful)

          by twem2 (598638)
          Exactly.

          Trade and the economy is not a zero-sum game, and things are so interlinked that protectionism in one area can result is disastrous.

          Unfortunately we don't have free movement between countries, that would make this even better, the labour force could migrate if the work changes (although of course, real world factors like family can prevent this).

          Protectionism is not the way forward though, it stiltifies the economy to the detriment to all.
      • Re:A perfect world (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ichin4 (878990) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:55AM (#14433942)

        An unmitigated deluge of skilled workers ... can be devastating to the local economy.

        Bzzzt! Return to Econ 101.

        The local economy = everything produced locally. More skilled workers = more produced locally = economy grows.

        Now, wihile said deluge certainly won't the devastate local economy, it certainly can devastate those displaced workers foolish enough to cling to the idea they are somehow owed a job in their former industry.

        • Re:A perfect world (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:48AM (#14434113)
          Bzzzt! Return to Econ 101.

          The local economy = everything produced locally. More skilled workers = more produced locally = economy grows.


          Yet again,

          The shell game, you can get a different job, ad naseum .

          How many degrees will you have to get to "keep getting new jobs",
          When the old one is "SOLD OUT" .

          When does the cost of the new degrees exceed the pay from
          restarting your career everytime the "corpocracy" decides to
          sell your job to ANYONE who will work for less .

          Under this theory, if they can do any job for less, then they
          will do ALL jobs for less, and thus their will be no jobs for
          workers that are citizens .

          Your grandfather or great grandfather may have died for your
          country, but that doesn't matter anymore .

          Business as usual, the bottom line is to be fed .

          Greed wins again .

          http://www.engology.com/E-News1375.htm [engology.com]

          Now, wihile said deluge certainly won't the devastate local economy, it certainly can devastate those displaced workers foolish enough to cling to the idea they are somehow owed a job in their former industry.

          I don't need a job, I own my own company now .

          I am not so moronic that I cannot see that total replacement of all citizens by
          L1 visa workers living in corporate owned slums sending most of their pay back
          to their home country would have a negative impact .

          During this time my and other London guest worker's corporate housing was frequently without heat, hot water and electricity.

          http://wwwa.house.gov/international_relations/108/ sha020404.htm [house.gov]

          I do not blame the ppl of other nations for wanting to get money to take care
          of their families, but I think they and their country would be better off in the long run
          fixing their country rather than picking the low hanging fruit off their neighbor's trees .

          Peace,
          Ex-MislTech

          Ex-MislTech

        • Re:A perfect world (Score:3, Insightful)

          by stephenbooth (172227)

          My observation, from having worked for IT employers who heavily used immigrant workers and living in areas where such workers settle, is that it's, now, very rare that said workers contribute more than the absolute minimum to the local economy. In the past it was normal for immigrant workers to come to an area, settle down, buy houses and raise families (by either bringing in others from their area of origin or marrying into the local population). These days, especially in IT, the norm seems to be to mov

      • Re:A perfect world (Score:4, Informative)

        by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:00AM (#14433953) Homepage Journal
        Sometimes for whatever reason, a nation might produce fewer skilled workers per capita in an industry than another nation does.
        Interestingly I heard someone talking about this on the radio news on the way home today. The reasoning they gave for decreasing 'importing' people was that a lowering in wages was decreasing the desirability of IT courses to Australians (compared to other courses) and therefore Australia is producing fewer IT workers now. So, according to him at least, the "importing" of foreign IT workers was a cause of under producing native workers and getting more would in fact make the problem worse, as sort of a vicious circle.

        To me it makes sense that a country should try and maintain a certain level of native competancy in skills, not that I have any idea what that level would be.
        • Re:A perfect world (Score:2, Informative)

          by Ex-MislTech (557759)
          Interestingly I heard someone talking about this on the radio news on the way home today. The reasoning they gave for decreasing 'importing' people was that a lowering in wages was decreasing the desirability of IT courses to Australians (compared to other courses) and therefore Australia is producing fewer IT workers now. So, according to him at least, the "importing" of foreign IT workers was a cause of under producing native workers and getting more would in fact make the problem worse, as sort of a vici
          • Re:A perfect world (Score:3, Informative)

            by TapeCutter (624760)
            "Are we paying taxes to fund schools to train our replacements ???"

            No, as far as I know no government funds foriegn students with taxpayers money, foriegn students are self funded. Here in Australia there are still plenty of jobs for someone with a computer science degree. I myself have had no trouble taking home more than the average wage for the past 15yrs.
    • Re:A perfect world (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:31AM (#14433887)
      Funny,

      I have worked for close to 30 years, and I have found lately that the bottom line is king .

      A lot of the reason ppl are being hired from overseas is cost, not quality .

      Don't get me wrong, some are quality ppl, I met some good and some bad while at cisco systems .

      There is a perception that americans are fat and lazy, and I have met them too, but then again
      I have met ppl that were awesome, but were paid very little because they were young .

      I also see that older ppl are generally not accepted into the tech sector as being
      considered unable to embrace new things and stuck in their ways .

      Some old school telecom ppl got screwed on this HR techno-babble mental mindwash .

      They need to just test the ppl, and have technical interviews in addition to the
      personality assessment done by HR .

      I have seen ppl hired at cisco that were pathethic , and they stayed even after the
      DOT bust and ppl that stayed and left were both utterly amazed by it .

      For the big corporations the accountants are driving them now, and 3dfx is a good
      example of what happens when accountants and marketing droids take over .

      Like I said, don't get me wrong, good ppl on both sides of the ocean, but some of the
      most experienced ppl in the tech sector are being driven away by new visa workers
      just for the cost savings .

      As an american you can go apply at some of the foreign IT head hunter shops and no
      matter your credentials you won't even get an interview .

      They want ppl they can leverage with fear of being sent back home as well, knowing
      it is the difference between a 3rd world job or being here making more than they would
      in their resident country by far .

      The flaw I see in this is that if money is made here, but most of it sent out of the country
      to support their family back home, then money that would go into the economy here ends up
      being sent out and deflating our economy .

      They cry about a trade deficit, but they themselves employ foreign workers who send a great
      deal of money home . "Just" sent via Western Union, "just" to mexico $6 billion USD .

      http://www.businessweek.com/1997/19/b3526155.htm [businessweek.com]

      I don't know how many ppl from other countries work here, but I know the figure is in the
      millions, and I know it is from MANY nations . I also know generally the mexicans make
      the least as well . So with that in mind, you can guesstimate the math .

      When the corporations whine about the trade deficit, they can keep this in mind .

      As for the government puppets protecting US jobs, that is a bunch of BS , and they should
      all be flown to hollywood to pick up their oscar awards .

      Peace,
      Ex-MislTech

    • Re:A perfect world (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MikeFM (12491) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:52AM (#14433933) Homepage Journal
      As an American (white male - lower middle class) I just want people to realize that immigrants aren't the real problem - foreign workers are the main problem. The best solution is to make it easier for those foreign workers to migrate here and get decent jobs here. We have minimum wage laws and free competition that other countries don't have. A large number of foreigners working for $2/hr would move here where they can make $20/hr. I'd sure as hell rather compete locally where all workers are under similar laws and living expenses than with someone that lives in a dirt hut and gets dirt pay. There would be a dip in wages as competition grew but it'd be much less drastic than the dip from jobs moving out of the country. What do we really think is going to be left as a source of income for us as companies keep migrating jobs? Blue collar jobs have been leaving us for years, white collar jobs have been following - what is going to be left?

      Make it easier for those workers to move into our western countries and encourage buying products produced within our own countries. That's how to keep wages high. Not by slowing migration. We want to force foreign countries to raise their minimum wage, improve their working and living conditions, etc and compete on a level ground with us. Pretty simple.
      • Re:A perfect world (Score:4, Insightful)

        by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @10:41AM (#14435471) Homepage
        We have minimum wage laws and free competition that other countries don't have.

        Someone else (an AC) already noticed this error, but I though I'd point out exactly why this is a contradiction.

        Minimum wage laws impose artificial restrictions on the economy. Like any price floor, they encourage oversupply and drive down demand, which results in unemployment. For a simple thought experiment to demonstrate this point, consider the following:

        Employee A starts out in an economy with no minimum-wage laws, making $2.50/hour for 40 hours/week. For every 120 hours of labor and $50 worth of material, the employer can sell a product for $400 ($50 over monetary cost). This increase is a result of the employee's time-preference: the employer has advanced $350 in wages and materials, in exchange for getting an additional $50 when the product is sold. We'll assume for the moment that this is the pure interest rate, the average monetary rate of time-preference. In other words, $350 three weeks from now is, on average, worth $100 in one week, another $100 in two weeks, and yet another $100 in three weeks (the rate is exaggerated for the purposes of example).

        A minimum-wage law is passed, requiring wages to be $3.00/hour or higher. The amount of labor required to produce the product remains unchanged, so the cost of labor and materials is now $410. Assuming that the pure rate of interest remains unchanged, the final price of the product will be $460. Raising the price will decrease demand, and so less of the product will be sold. As a result, although the wages have increased by $0.50/hour, the number of hours of labor required for all the products combined will decrease. This may result in unemployment for some, reduced hours for all, or some combination of the two. In the end, the total amount of money spent on labor may increase, remain the same, or decrease. In any event, the product itself will be harder to come by. If the minimum wage applies across the entire economy, then the purchasing power of the money will decrease because there will be less to buy.

  • by MadLep (61542) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:44AM (#14433757) Homepage
    I work at a software development firm in Melbourne, Australia. We've had a lot of new work recently and have had to recruit extra developers. It has been very hard to find competant staff. Sure, there are a lot of wannabe grads and deadwood who have drifted through a few years experience, but it's slim pickings in general.
    • Mod parent up!! Deadwood is certainly the case!

      Most of the new development staff we've hired in recent years have come from internal applicants in our Technical Support departments who've been through our systems software training programs.

      When I went back to uni to do IT in mid-90's (I was an Elec. Eng. originally) I was unpleasantly surprised to find that a large number of incoming students had to be shown where to find the power switches on the lab computers. It seems that not much has changed, with

    • A lot of the jobs I've been looking at are pretty blase in their requirements. They seem to want degrees and a decade of experience for jobs that really don't require so much. For myself, I'm a Canadian with a background in system administration (Linux/Windows networks) and general IT support (hardware, networking, etc). Employers ask for the kitchen sink, and there are plenty out there who will jump up shouting about experience they don't have - making it hard for me to find my own in. Again, I'm not an Au
    • by pookemon (909195) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:56AM (#14434139) Homepage
      We recently advertised for a graduate developer through a very well known Job Search website at a very well known University (and hospital...). Of the 2 dozen or so replys we got we binned close to half almost immediately simply based on the terrible cover letters (Eg. I would like to work for your Origination). 2 of the applications were Aussies, the rest were foreign students. Out of the dozen or so left (the ones we read past the front cover) only 3 could actually string a sentence together (the 2 Aussies and one Chinese guy on a student visa).

      When we interviewed the 3 the Chinese guy had obviously copied his resume from someone else as he hardly spoke a word of English. The other two we pretty much ended up flipping a coin to pick our new employee.

      I used to work for the parent company of an IT Employment Agency that organises the immigration of significant numbers of people from India. When their Candidates couldn't find work they'd "organise" a contract with us. Whilst their resumes often looked good (Gee I wonder why) they generally didn't have anywhere near the skills claimed.

      I have also worked with alot of the Deadwood (having worked for Aus' biggest Telco and with a few ppl from Big Blue). IMO alot of the dead wood in the market is their because they were released into the market by the transfer from the Telco to the Big Blue.

      That being said you hire Graduates because they are cheap - and you train them. If you want someone with experience you go to one of the many Employment Agencies and they'll find more than enough candidates for you.

      my 2c
    • by kale77in (703316) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:19AM (#14434219) Homepage
      I work for a Gov't dept in Australia -- web stuff mainly, a large system using PHP, Linux, database. We've been trying to hire new people for weeks (we're advertising in Sydney).

      We use an interview plus a timed skills test which all current employees have passed -- it differentiates the sheep and goats better than anything else we've tried. Even (?) after being referred by a HR company, and having a sufficiently interesting C.V. to make an interview, most applicants have been very seriously underskilled, and at least a few have seemed dangerously incompetent.

      All of which means (1) Our current staff are feeling pretty good about their job security, and (2) we really do not care where applicants come from. We just want to find them.
    • I completely agree with you, and am completely baffled by the article's ascertations.

      I work for a Melbourne ISP, and can assure you that finding skilled operations and development (two different roles there!) people is difficult. Our salaries are above average, the work varied, yet we still generally find a glut of skilled people.

      And to answer those suggesting that we employ junior personel and train them up -we do. Though you can't expect to succeed as a company with one or two senior people and an army
    • I work at a software development firm in Melbourne, Australia. We've had a lot of new work recently and have had to recruit extra developers. It has been very hard to find competant staff. Sure, there are a lot of wannabe grads and deadwood who have drifted through a few years experience, but it's slim pickings in general.
      It's not just good appdev people that are difficult to find in Melbourne. I reckon it's harder to find good systems people here.
    • by Itchy Rich (818896) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @08:19AM (#14434750)

      It has been very hard to find competant staff. Sure, there are a lot of wannabe grads and deadwood who have drifted through a few years experience, but it's slim pickings in general.

      I lived in Melbourne for 6 months (2002-2003) and was looking for work in IT. I didn't get a single interview until I removed any mention of my nationality from my CV.

  • boom bust cycle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bobby1234 (860820) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:44AM (#14433759)
    Once again the boom bust cycle continues...

    1. high demand results in increasing supply (more uni graduates and immigration)

    2. demand deminishes resulting in supply being met

    3. demand bottoms out => oversupply

    4. low demand => less uni graduates and less immigration

    5. demand begins to increase

    6. goto 1
    • You've just illustrated the cycle by which the market corrects itself, wage prices being the usual economic signal (Adam Smith's "invisible hand"). It's not really a boom-bust cycle, though, since the market tends to make corrections quickly.

      However, market interference tends to send the wrong signals to market participants, resulting in booms and busts. Here's a typical boom-bust cycle:

      1. New Industry (IT, dot-com, whatever) emerges with strong growth potential.

      2. Government creates below-market interest r
  • by caffeinemessiah (918089) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:44AM (#14433760) Journal
    It's all very fine to point the finger at immigrant workers and blame them for vanishing jobs, but the question to be asked is why are they needed? Is it because immigrant workers are instantly, instinctively appealing to employers that they just feel a desperate urge to dump on their countrymen? If that were the case, then this would be a valid argument. But the IT immigration bias exists because the demand for IT labor exists. True, if there were no immigrant workers, then there'd be no shortage of X country IT jobs for people from X country, but there also would be a gaping personnel demand that X country's IT workers could not fill. The question should be why are immigrant IT workers getting jobs over the natives (and I use that term as respectfully as "immigrant")? And please don't come back with the "lower wage" stuff -- all the (few) job offers I got (being an "immigrant") were very competitive with those of local workers.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:06AM (#14433826) Journal
      When you have a high standard of living (USA, France, Australia) workers in high paying industries expect decent hours and good wages.

      Foreigners from countries with lower standards of living (large parts of Eastern Europe, Africa, portions of Asia) tend to willing to work long hours for what we'd consider a shitty salary, but for them is relatively high.

      The worker Visa program also creates something of a hostage situation (in the U.S. at least). If cheap foreign laborers start bitching about their wages or working conditions, they can easily get their Visa revoked and sent back home. Australia also has work visa programs, so I imagine it is somewhat similar.
      • by Mateito (746185) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:21AM (#14433858) Homepage
        willing to work long hours for what we'd consider a shitty salary

        C'mon. Everybody I know (including myself) in this industry in Australia work shitty hours. Programming deadlines, upgrade windows, tender responses, support calls. Even just the reading to stay on top of the technology. We get paid well because we know stuff and we put in the hard yards.

        Looking around my office, if there are "foreigners" taking Australian jobs, then those foreigners all come from NZ (Out of 18 people I can see from my cube, 4 are kiwis). Kiwis don't even need a Visa to come work in Aus.

        As far as these "unemployable" grads, I'd like to see their profiles. I still get people turning up with a three-year CS degree from a non-brand university, a CCNA and an expectation of a six-figure salary. Sorry guys, not going to happen when I can get somebody (either Aussie or Foreign) with a hell of a lot of experience for that money.

        We don't discrimiate on race or background, but nor do we import people to work for us. Actually, I can't think of any reason to import "cheap" foreign workers: The hoops you have to jump through to get the Visa are still pretty stiff, they have no knowledge of the local market and if I just want to use them for programming, why not leave them where they are and send the work over?

        No. I think at least a decent proportion of these grads don't have work because they don't have the skills or experience to land the jobs, nor the nouse to go out and get the requisites.

    • There are a bunch of reasons.
      • The immigrant IT workers might be better qualified due to a stronger education and technical background.
      • Workers could have similar skill levels, but the number of foreign applicants might far outnumber citizen applications.
      • Foreign nationals of particular national, ethnic, or racial background might be perceived (and I know this is against the law in at least the U.S. but it still can happen in the form of unofficial bias) as more skilled.
      • Sure, wage might be an issue. Not i
    • Well, I've personally seen a few examples where it was just all about the money.

      That's over here in Melbourne, on the East Coast, but it's the same situation.

      It's all about the money. Most IT workers are recruited based on keyword searches through resumes. I know this happens and have seen many examples of it in IT, project manager and other areas.

      It's just another form of outsourcing, but doesn't have the negative PR.
    • It's all very fine to point the finger at immigrant workers and blame them for vanishing jobs, but the question to be asked is why are they needed?

      There is no finger of blame here.

      There is simply the suggestion that the answer to your question "why are they needed?" is that they aren't, at least in current numbers/skill levels. The statement that "IT immigration bias exists because the demand for IT labor exists" is all well and good but it should be proven. According to a news story I just saw 60% of I

  • by 246o1 (914193) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:47AM (#14433766)
    Either the skilled immigrants are taking our jobs (competing under our labor laws), or the skilled foreigners are doing our jobs remotely.

    Either the poor immigrants are responsible for all the poverty and crime, or else the birthrate is too low.

    Admittedly, I didn't RTFA before deciding to post, but i have read it now. Basically, it's all summed up in the title. Some immigration analyst interviewed by what appears to be a newspaper says that too much skilled labor is causing a glut. Nothing new, for those of you who follow this kind of news in America, or any other country, i guess. damned foreigners (not that it's not a legitimately difficult situation).

    A single source gave them the gist. Then at the end, here's the kicker:

    But Australian Computer Society chief executive officer Dennis Furini said that while there was possibly an oversupply of entry-level programmers, there was a shortage of specialists in areas such as e-commerce and network security.

    An Immigration Department spokesman said it relied on information from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations to draw up the skilled occupation list.

    "The Immigration Department has no information suggesting IT jobs should be taken off the skilled occupation list," he said.
    • I'm someone not too long away from graduating in Soft Eng from an Australian university, and I'm sort of getting the opposite feeling to this article here. I think that even with the migrants (and yes there are a lot of them) there may be a shortage of specialised IT workers quite soon. I'm talking about specialised IT workers, not help desk workers or something like that. University enrollments are at a record low of something like 20 years for IT related degrees, my own university is having quite a bit
    • You try to offer a 100k+ package for a specialist position in sydney and see what kind of crap will apply. You find a good ossie, good for ya.
      We usually pay relocation for someone from either europe or the us in order to get someone with decent technical skills.

      This is NOT cheap but what other options are there when you just can not hire locally?

      Close to 50% of our hires over the last few years has been 100k+ package plus full relocation from europe/us but what other options are there?
  • by femto (459605) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:48AM (#14433768) Homepage
    The IT immigrants I know in Australia are getting paid more than the locally produced talent!

    In my experience the immigrants aren't coming from third world contries and being used to force down Australia's wages. Rather they are from other countries with major (well paid) IT industries and Australia is poaching hard to get talent from these contries.

    Hence the higher wages for the off shore talent. They are commanding higher wages as there is hardly any competition for the job from within Australia.

    Others may have different experiences, but I can only comment on what I have observed. The people I know aren't 'entry level', though not all of them have a degree (lots of experience though).

    • I'm a Californian that came down to Oz just around the bubble bursting. Anyway, my wife is an Aussie so I used her for the green card. I'm making more in Oz then I ever did during the bubble years in NorCal (inflation included). Course, "I's be one of dem damned fur-en-ers" the article discusses I suppose (though I now have my Aussie citizenship), but I am most assuredly not at the bottom of the market, pay wise.
    • Don't forget that many Australian go straight from university to see the world. Well, when I say "world", I mean "London", with some weekend trips into Europe. Well, when I say "Europe", I really mean the Shepherds Bush Walkabout and Fulham Slug.

      Just kidding, back to the subject. Many of those are trained IT people, who tend to stick around here for quite some time before, not in the least because of the high wages you can make here, especially if you do contracting work. And that is why they stick around f
  • by Quirk (36086) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:51AM (#14433777) Homepage Journal
    An introductory Economics text will speak to the need for labour to be willing to move to where there is work. Whether as individuals or as groups, those who battle the idea of economic globalization are irrelevant in the face of the movement toward freetrade zones and trade agreements. The current troubles arising from the implementation of globalization is causing friction and will for some time to come.

    It's unlikely that isolationist nations can survive because trade secrets and laws protecting IP aren't sufficient to stop the flow of knowledge. The requirement is to stay competitive. Staying competitive requires a series of tradeoffs including bringing in cheaper labour.

    Bite the bullet, it's better than the alternative of isolationist states at a constant threat of war.

  • Don't worry (Score:3, Funny)

    by RickPartin (892479) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @02:54AM (#14433786) Homepage
    Foreigners really, I mean REALLY love doing over the phone support. Us IT workers have absolutely nothing to worry about.
  • assuming equal proficiency, if someone will do for $10 what i want $100 for, then obviously the guy who will do it for $10 will get the job

    whether he lives in bangalore, san francisco, or melbourne

    go ahead and fight that, go ahead and wail about the injustice of it all

    what are you going to do about it? what can you do about it?

    are you saying it's exploitation of the guy who makes less? well he doesn't have to deal with the real estate market in san francisco... so rather than complain about how little the guy in india is getting paid, why isn't the problem that you are getting too much money for what you do?
    • I would much rather have the immigrants move here where they have the same cost of living expenses that I do than see Bangalore become the tech capital of the world. The reason that the first world has remained the first world for so long is that we have enticed the best and brightest from the rest of the world to leave their homelands and relocate in the first world.

      • fuck the west (Score:4, Insightful)

        by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:33AM (#14434053) Homepage Journal
        fuck protectionism

        i thought the whole idea is that the contrast between rich and poor areas of the world should level out, that this is progress

        or i suppose you like regions of disgusting wealth contrasted with disgusting poverty in this world?

        exactly what does the idea "progress" mean to you? or do you think progress isn't important?
  • by coyote-san (38515) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:07AM (#14433830)
    Doubling the number of developers doesn't mean you double the size of the industry. Some developers will leave the field, others will be discouraged from taking entry level jobs, etc.

    The last point is something worth considering. My friends and I all have solid technical educations. A generation ago we would be leading the charge to get more students to pursue similar academic and career tracks. It's hard work, but it also meant you could have steady employment later.

    Now we all discourage people from pursuing technical degrees. The risk is too high. Senior people may still be in demand (although we have to wonder about that as well), but entry-level positions?

    For that matter it's not just IT. Higher education is getting much more expensive at the same time that skinflint republicans are cutting student assistance. That forces many students to be more focused on a "trade school" university education than the more well-rounded one of prior generations. K-12 education, it goes without saying, is now teaching to the test to avoid draconian measures under NCLB. (Never mind what a high-performing school district can do. How do you show improvement when you already peg the test? These districts will be punished for being "successful.")

    That's a minor pain today, but where will this country be in 20 years? I don't begrudge other countries growing their IT economy, but what happens when everyone would rather stay at home with a higher standard of living than they could get here?

    There's a term for what the US is doing -- "eating our seed corn". Businesses may need to look at the next quarterly statement, but the government should be taking a longer view. Maybe the solution is to increase immigration so these skilled workers are more motivated to stay, maybe it's to limit immigration so our students have a motivation to make the necessary investment to be highly skilled workers in 20 years. But AFAIK that question isn't even on the table.
  • by Alex (342) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:19AM (#14433853)
    All of the Aussie IT workers that aren't working in London ?

    Alex

    ps - Hi Neil.
  • Just shut up.... (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcbridematt (544099) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:24AM (#14433865) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps they should stop blaming others and increase the standard of what is being taught at Universities and the last few years of secondary/high school. The Australian IT industry is a shame compared to other countries.

    He also said the Australian Computer Society, which accredits the IT qualifications of applicants for permanent residency, should introduce tougher English tests and insist that overseas students spend three years studying IT in Australia, rather than two.

    The Australian Computer Society? Oh, these are the same guys who think IT 'pros' should be certified just like doctors and nurses. When its illegal to be an uncertified IT guy in Australia, please tell me because I will happily show the door to anything trying to enforce it.
  • you guys supporting this 'no foreign workers' paradigm should be ashamed of yourselves. you're a racketeering mob if ever their was one: cronyist, corrupt and extortionist. take the medical fraternity in australia as an example of where this 'jobs for qualified locals only' thinking goes. the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has exactly these kinds of racketeering rules laid out in law (you can't practice medicine without being an AMA member; doing so is the equivalent of a felony) to prevent foreigner
  • by ministerofsickeningr (524980) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:32AM (#14433890) Homepage
    I have been going there on and off for the last 4 years, and every time i go, i pick up industry rags, employment papers and all that lot, and check out the local IT scene there for software/IT work. let me tell you, its damn thin on the ground there, wages are laughable, and australia has a ton of overqualified people that cannot get a job. the worst problem is, not once did i see any evidence of an environment that fostered a silicon valley or whatever type of rampant innovation and development. maybe there is some geographic area that i am missing there, but if there is a bay area, or redmond, or boston there, i couldnt find it. it made me sad, cos i love the country, the people, and most everything else, but after 15 years in the IT industry in most of the hottest markets in the US, i'm fully accepting of the fact that i *will* have to change industries radically in order to keep my head afloat, should i decide to relocate.
    • once did i see any evidence of an environment that fostered a silicon valley or whatever type of rampant innovation and development

      You are spot on. There are very few incentives that encourage entrepeneurial behaviour, and in the end we are a small markets (20 million people) selling into a small market.

      Today I went to talk to a group of PhDs who have spent the last 3 years developing some really funky s/ware. This friday they are off to europe and asia for two months to get some pilots up and running wit

      • No government help, no tax breaks... and Australia is not going to benefit from it:

        I'd blame that on a lack of research ability. I know of three different government sponsorship schemes off the top of my head (federal and state) that are designed for non-equity based seed funding. And, I'm not an expert in the area. If done correctly and if successful, you can generate somewhere in the order of a few hundred thousand a year and have the opportunity to re-apply when the funding period runs out (a few

  • Humbug ! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:32AM (#14433891)
    >> Australian IT Workers Concerned About Migrants

    That's a deliberately misleading headline. Read the article or don't waste your time, here's a summary

    Australian IT workers haven't made any comment.
    The comment was made by a consultant longing for long-past Y2K golden days.

    "Bob Kinnaird, of labour market consultants Kinnaird and Associates, said ........ "

    I can't blame The Age for publishing it.

    After all, if it bleeds, it leads :-)
  • by redblue (943665) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:36AM (#14433900)
    Why is a global free market for goods considered good, but that for labor bad by so many inhabitants of "developed" nations?
    • Why is a global free market for goods considered good, but that for labor bad by so many inhabitants of "developed" nations?

      Because free markets are good for consumers (who get low prices for good products), not for suppliers (who are driven towards zero profit). On the labor market, the people are the suppliers. It's not really surprising that free goods markets are more popular than free labor markets.

    • Why is a global free market for goods considered good, but that for labor bad by so many inhabitants of "developed" nations?

      Because "developed" nations are the ones producing the goods.

      And it's not just goods/labour, it applies to different types of goods too. If you look at some recent "free trade" agreements, it often boils down to free trade on goods which the stronger country exports, but not on those that the weaker one exports.

  • Would programmers in the developed world be better off without immigration ... ?

    Would white miners in South Africa be better off without competition from black miners? [gondwanaland.com]

  • History repeats (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VincenzoRomano (881055) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:58AM (#14433950) Homepage Journal
    There's no way to stop history.
    This already happened several times in the Human history. One of the most kown case the "Fall of Roman Empire".
    People coming from the borders substituted the Romans in almost all the "lower" layers of the society, thus actually changing the Roman Empire itself. Soldiers were not Roman at all, later officers and generals and finally even the Emperors themselves.
    The same happened with economy. First the farmers and the goods traders, later the manufacturers. In the end of the Empire all the stuff needed to keep Rome alive came from abroad, even the wheat.
    And Rome ended to be nothing more than a village from a big city it used to be.
    The "empire" people concentrate into consuming resources instead of producing them and into looking at the world instead of taking care of it. The people from the borders try to exploit this by providing those goods, thus dumping the market and killing the "local" manufacturers and traders with lower costs and prices.
    Most part of the western society will be replaced in a near future by "border" people. And there is no way to stop this.
  • No, I'm not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kris_J (10111) * on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @03:59AM (#14433952) Journal
    As an Australian IT worker, not only am I not concerned about migrants taking my job, I actually work in an educational institution that trains international students. Migrants are not "taking Australian Jobs", that's just a tired old stereotype hauled out whenever some, usually, right-wing nutjob wants to rally support for whatever cause he or she is abusing at that moment.

    This is a small planet people, and everyone is just trying to get through life as best as they can.

    • My Family & I lived just north of Sydney for 7~8 years, shortly after our defection from the Czech Republic. To this day I still have the impression that Australia is very protectionist (Mind you this was back in the '70's). What it's like now I couldn't comment on, as I haven't live there since 1980. The main drift of my comments though are perhaps that the issue looks different from a immigrant's point of view.
  • Sensational Bullocks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gregoryl (187330)
    I work in Australian IT and this topic never comes up.
    I look around and yes, I'm one of two people in my team of 10 that are Australian, but who cares?
    Like most others we are more concerned with our roles being outsourced off shore.
    It's kind of cool being surrounded by different people for different backgrounds - I'm proud of the lack of discrimination and mixed culture that is in my industry.

    This topic has never been a concern in any Australian workplace I've worked in. It is sensationalistic journalism.
  • An engineer from China or India is going to lower the wages of first-world engineers regardless of where he or she works. It is actually better for Australia to let these people come and work in their country - at least they can then collect the taxes as their own corporations make profits. Leave them in China or India and they will just compete from there, to the benefit of China and India and their companies.

    You cannot stop the information from crossing the border, and that is what matters in the end.
  • by linuxlover (40375) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:31AM (#14434047) Homepage
    I attended a major Austalian University majoring in Comp Eng. Now I work in Silicon Valley. So I can talk about both worlds on a personal test.

    Australia is a country with small population (20 mil) compared to US (~300 mil). There isn't a robust IT job market. This has lead to a massive 'IT recruiting' industry. These are the people who advertise with ludicrous(sp?) terms like
                    5years + Java experience is a must (this was when Java was publicly available for only 3 years)!
    Also the recruiter guy interviews you has very little knowledge of Tech field and will throw some standard tech questions
          - why virtual destructiors for C++ ..etc

    Also other useless crap like
          - where do you see yourself in 3yrs, 5yrs, 10 yrs (do I really want to tell the guy, that I will start my own company in 5 yrs!)
          - what is your weakness, how do you over come it

    Also there is no shortage of other 'BS' like
                - writing a good cover letter, cover letter?!
                - going to interview with full suit & tie

    When I came to Silicon valley (during the dotcom bubble), I went to a career fair, aced 3 interviews on the spot, went to the company for more interviews. Had another 5 interviews with Eng team and got a job offer, all within days. All interview questions were spot on, trying to figure out if I had really done the things I have mentioned in my resume. I was interviewed by geeks and architects who knew their deal. All the while wearing jeans & t-shirt!

    When I went back to Aus (my wife is Aus) a recruiter tried to set me up for an interview. He said 'wear a business suit with a tie'. After working in Silicon Valley culture for years, I didn't have the stomach to go through the BS again. So I declined.

    thanks for reading.
  • by l3v1 (787564) on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @04:33AM (#14434055)
    Ok, so I'll have to start with telling that I'm also something like an immigrant where I live now (no, not in the US or Australia), meaning I have the nationality of this country but I was born in another country and then later immigrated here, and I'm doubly involved in anything IT-related, having both IT and EE degrees, and working in the field.

    What I can tell from my experience and from knowing _a lot_ of what you'd call immigrant IT workers - not just who came here, but who went into western Europe and/or US - so what I can tell is that they didn't go because they want to live there forever, or because they didn't have or couldn't have got good jobs here, or because they wanted to take US jobs from US people, but because the money. Nothing else, but the money. Working a few years in the US can really mean a _very_ large boost financially for very many people from very many countries.

    And thing is, IT/CS/EE-related people usually are a bit more "brave" in going in other countries to work, since if you're skilled, there are _very_ many opportunities, positions and jobs that you can get.

    And added to the above, I don't think that the ever larger global flow of "work force", talent and skilled people is a bad thing. In fact I think just the opposite of that, and if I were in the position I'd very much encourage that.

    Even I would have had some opportunities to go and work in some other countries, but I prefer being and licing where I am now, so I didn't go. But today I would go, since e.g. in my current job I'd only be able to buy a 40-50m^2 flat in about 20-25 years (I'm just getting 27 now). Now think about that for a minute.

    By stopping foreign workers from getting into one's country to live and/or work one can only achieve one thing: hate.
     
  • Historically, you blame the immigrants for everything as is currently happening. This is fairly easy when your media don't really cover anything outside their own borders that does not involve their citizens being tried for drug offences or having a fine old time shooting up potential immigrants, oops, I mean terrorists.

    The classic next move is to round up the immigrants into internment camps - which I see the Australians are already doing, so they seem to know the game plan.

    Then, as the Nazis did, you whip
  • Call to all migrants - Do NOT settle for a lower salary.

    Or maybe the migrants didn't have a choice but accept worse salary conditions, to at least allow them to re-start their lives? Most people don't imagine the cost to migrate from one country to another.

    Whomever says "migrants lower the average salary" and complain about it should be ashamed of themselves.

    Obviously the salaries were lower because the migrants were discriminated against 'natives' in the first place. ('Natives' between quotes because we're
  • Yeah, all those highly skilled, white bloody South Africans fleeing the ANC regime - and emigrating to Australia, New Zealand and Canada....
  • the work will go where the labour is. And _that_ is even cheaper.

    Perhaps this consultant needs to open an Indian office.
  • Disclaimer: I'm an Australian, born and bred in one of Australia's most unique spots, but as soon as I was able to work, I left Australia .. and have been making my living, ever since, as a programmer, outside Australia.

    You want to make money as a programmer, have a wonderful life, and do something worthwhile? Go to a 3rd world country and teach them to write code.

    The world needs far less nationalism, far less 'right to my nations lifestyle', and far less elitism. The world needs more cooperation, more pa
    • I can't stand the 'lifestyle trap' that Australians think they have a God-given right to. Australia never, ever belonged to whitey.

      Nice to see your racist colours shining through.

      To my Australian compatriates, I say, get the hell out of town and live a little .. your lifestyle is the problem. The world needs you to leave.

      Huh ? One of the big problems in Australia is there are _too many_ skilled people leaving the country because the wages are relatively low and taxation is relatively high.

  • My Situation (Score:3, Informative)

    by hoofie (201045) <graeme AT graemeandkim DOT com> on Tuesday January 10, 2006 @05:37AM (#14434278)

    I'm moving to Australia from the UK next month and I don't remember seeing any IT jobs on the Skilled List. At the moment, the Skilled Occupations List is made up of medical jobs or else such things as panel beaters, electricans, chefs, welders etc - i.e. skilled, but not automatically professional, occupations. We've got a permanent visa through my wife who is a nurse.

    As far as I am aware, only an obscure or very specific IT speciality will get you a work visa for Australia at the moment.

    As for all of these overseas students graduating and getting work visas, is it not safe to argue that a large number of them will be making a beeline for the U.S. anyway ?

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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