Zane Rebronja reports on opportunities that exist for skilled and business migrants from the UK in Melbourne and Victoria across the information and communication technologies industry.

Australia’s famed mining ‘boom’ may be nearing an end but despite reports of a slowing of the economy, Australia is currently in its 24th year of uninterrupted economic growth. To help ensure a steady supply of talent able to meet Australia’s labour market needs, the Australian Government is operating one of its largest skilled and business migration programs in history.

Melbourne, the capital of the Australian State of Victoria, was recently voted the ‘World’s Most Liveable City’ for a fifth consecutive year by the Economist Intelligence Unit and is now the fastest growing city in Australia adding an average of 1,500 new residents per week both from interstate and abroad, a figure very similar to London’s. With a current population size of approximately 4.5 million residents, Melbourne is set to overtake Sydney as Australia’s largest city as new arrivals seek out the huge variety of business and employment opportunities currently available, particularly in the information and communication technologies industry.

Across the state, Victoria is renowned for its excellent high-speed broadband and wireless networks, secure data centres, intercontinental connectivity, university and corporate research labs, test beds and education facilities.

Victoria’s IT industry which comprises telecommunications services, computer software, analysis and business services, wholesaling - ICT goods, manufacturing - ICT equipment, internet publishing, consulting and provision, computer hardware and maintenance is made up of over 8,000 companies, including 11 of the top 20 Australian technology companies, generating around A$33 billion in revenue. Many international companies are located in Victoria including; IBM, Microsoft, HP, Motorola, NEC, Ericsson, EMC, Cisco, Intel, Thales, Fujitsu, Hitachi and Bosch. Victoria's IT industry employs 91,300 people (31 per cent of the total Australian IT industry).

Melbourne, known as Australia’s economic powerhouse and the national hub of innovation and technology is the technical heart of Australia’s national broadband network (NBN), the national high-speed broadband network currently under construction. Melbourne plays host to the NBN’s National Operations Centre, test facility and other critical technical operations including the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society, which is based at the University of Melbourne, Australia’s top ranked university. Melbourne also has one of the largest IT R&D clusters in the southern hemisphere, producing world-leading, commercially-focused research. The city has become known as the ‘hatching’ capital of Australia because of its strong R&D base, supportive start-up business environments and numerous co-operative, co-working spaces around the city.

Melbourne was chosen by IBM as the location for one of its 12 IBM Global R&D laboratories and is home to a number of IT research centres including the Microsoft Centre for Social Natural User Interface, La Trobe University’s Centre for Technology Infusion and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative, the largest supercomputer facility devoted to the life sciences in the world, and the Melbourne laboratory of National IT Australia (NICTA), Australia’s largest organisation dedicated to IT research, specialises in data analysis, optimisation and big data.

For skilled migrants, under the State Nomination Visa program subclass 190 visa (a part of Australia’s Skilled Migration programme), Victoria is currently offering visa nomination to eligible applicants in the following ICT occupations: Electronic equipment trades worker, telecommunications lines worker, telecommunications technician, ICT business analyst, systems analyst, analyst programmer, developer programmer, software engineer, software tester, software and applications programmers, database administrator, IT security specialist.

Computing professionals in Victoria can expect to earn an average gross weekly earnings AUD$1,450 and work an average working week of approximately 41 hours.

There are a number of professional bodies and industry associations that are a good source of information for Building Associates in Victoria and these include: The Australian Computing Society (ACS) which is the main body for IT professionals - benefits of membership include career, professional development and advocacy services. Professionals Australia also offers career and information services to information technology professionals, including the Information Technology Professionals Association (ITPA), a special interest group can provide support with workplace matters, advice on conditions of employment in IT and information about employment contracts. The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) is a membership organisation for IT companies. Finally, the Information Technology Contract and Recruitment Association (ITCRA) comprises recruiters in the IT industry.

Applying for a skilled migration visa does require several processes to be completed such as a skills assessment, providing evidence of qualifications and experience as well as a possible English language test. These steps are outlined on the Live in Victoria website in more detail and, provided an applicant meets the eligibility criteria, they could expect to receive their visa within 6 - 12 months from commencing the process.

Migrants looking to set up a new venture in Australia whether it is in the IT industry or something entirely different are often drawn to Melbourne and Victoria because of its strong economy, excellent employment and business opportunities, world class educational institutions and quality of life. In fact over 50 per cent of all business migrants to Australia settle in Victoria.

Victoria has a broad-based economy, transparent governance and legal protections for investors. It has a long tradition of welcoming foreign investment and offers competitive business costs compared to other global locations. The Harvard Business Review rated Australia as the best place to invest in the post-recession world, based on a comparative assessment of FDI policy environment and macroeconomic conditions.

With a triple A rated economy, and its continuous economic expansion, an average economic growth of three per cent over the past decade and low inflation, Victoria provides economic opportunities that are currently rare in most of the developed world. Combine this with a steadily growing building and construction industry and access to highly skilled and qualified workforce, setting up a business in Melbourne or Victoria could be the logical next step for expanding a business.

The Victorian Government offers visa nomination under the full range of Australian Government business and investor visa pathways and wherever you are in the world, business and investor migrants are offered personal access to support services from a global network of Victorian Government business offices. In Europe, there are Victorian Government business offices in London and Frankfurt offering support services including access to the Victorian Government’s Agent General and a dedicated Victorian Government Migration Manager in London.

Victorian Government business offices provide information and referrals for migrant investors and their representatives including: Information about trade and investment opportunities in Victoria; Victorian Government visa nomination and compliant investment requirements; wealth management and financial services providers in Victoria. For skilled migrants, we can provide a full range of information about living and working in Melbourne as an IT professional including tips on securing employment and how to navigate through the visa process.

So come down to Victoria for a visit and get a sense for your new life ‘Down Under’. Victoria is approximately the same size as the UK so there is plenty to see and explore.