Skilled Migration Changes

The Hon. P. Dutton MP

Minister for Immigration and Border protection

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Minister


Re: skilled workers required to support Australia’s infrastructure program


I write to seek your support to return surveying and spatial professions to the Short-Term Skilled Occupations List and Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List for Temporary Worker (Skilled) visa (subclass 457 visa), Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186) visa (ENS visa) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187) visa (RSMS visa).

Australia is presently experiencing a shortage of skilled spatial sciences workers critical to a range of projects funded in the Federal Budget. These shortages will impact on key areas of the economy as an increasing number of sectors within the Australian economy discover the value of location intelligence.

  • The spatial industry is a rapid growth, high technology sector that has been recognised by the US Government as one of the top three sectors for employment growth.
  • Spatial skills include location based services and technologies such as surveying, mapping, modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), location business intelligence, remote sensing, GPS, intelligent transport systems.
  • Competition for spatial science skills is coming from companies such as Microsoft, Google, Lockheed Martin, Telstra, Woodside and Rio Tinto as well as from traditional spatial companies engaged in surveying and mapping.
  • The key growth areas of the Australian economy – specifically mining and infrastructure – have created increased demand for spatial professionals. The skilled migration program previously assisted our industry to meet this demand. 
  • Confidence in Australia’s education pipeline is reported as problematic among respondents who have or plan to access skills overseas. (According to respondents, decreased demand from the mining industry in recent years has led to the cancellation of related courses in many universities.)
  • Research conducted within the surveying and spatial industry over the past few months has highlighted that client’s minimum experience requirements, particularly in specialist fields like tunnel surveying, present a challenge for local businesses.
  • Certain IT roles are more heavily impacted by their removal from the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List, where surveyors and survey technicians are reported as being impacted across the board. (A full list of affected jobs is appended.)

In Brisbane alone by 2026 it is estimated there will be a further 50,000 inner city apartments built, plus the cross-river rail, increased road networks and building infrastructure. In order for these plans to come to fruition the skills of spatial industry experts are needed

The reduced age limit from 50 to 40 years for applicants also makes it harder to import the experience sometimes necessary, with one respondent suggesting “The perception that working in Australia is no longer a long-term opportunity impacts on the decisions for more mature job seekers.”

The Spatial Industries Business Association is the peak industry body in Australia representing these capabilities. Our companies include small medium enterprises and large multinational corporations across a diverse range of activities.

We seek your support to review the current application of rules under the skilled migration program as they apply to spatial and other professionals. It is important that the issues we have outlined above are dealt with as a matter of urgency.

I thank you for considering this proposal and offer our support and assistance in any review of the 457 Visa Program to facilitate an equitable outcome for our industry sector.


Yours sincerely

Deanna Hutchinson

Chief Executive Officer




CC: The Hon Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Science and Innovation; The Hon Angus Taylor MP, Assistant Minister for Digital Transformation and Cities




Impacted jobs for skilled migration

Spatial businesses leverage the skilled migration program for a range of roles, including:

·       Accountant

·       Analyst programmer

·       Cartographer

·       Chief executive or managing director

·       Chief information Officer

·       Company secretary

·       Computer and network systems engineer

·       Corporate GM

·       Developer programmer

·       Other spatial scientist

·       ICT project manager

·       ICT Trainer

·       Network administrator

·       Software and applications programmers

·       Spatial Science Technicians

·       Spatial Scientist (GIS Manager)

·       Surveyor

·       Systems administrator

·       Systems analyst

·       Technical writer