IT graduate James* says he's applied for more than 250 jobs in Australia that he believes he's qualified for, but can only find work in the US.
IT graduate James* says he's applied for more than 250 jobs in Australia that he believes he's qualified for, but can only find work in the US. Supplied

457 myth: 250 job applications and still no job in Australia

AT 25 years old, James was living a tech-head's dream.

The university graduate had been snapped up by a global tech giant after a short stint in software development at a Melbourne company.

As a project manager at Amazon's Seattle campus, he was in a high responsibility role and leading projects with massive scale.

The pressure was huge and the reward proportionally significant. The young techie was developing skills and gaining experience that would put him in good stead for the rest of his career. He'd be was dealing with problems that involved 20 to 30 other teams, servicing a large portion of the company's customer base, on projects that needed to be turned around super fast.

James loved the work and the culture, but he didn't necessarily want to work his way up at one of the Silicon Valley giants where most IT graduates dream of making their mark. He wanted to come home, and bring his skills to Australia.

But, bizarrely, he says he's found the tech job market down under far more difficult to crack.

James is not his real name by the way, he's chosen to withhold that so not to further limit his career opportunities.

Since leaving his job at Amazon, James has tried to get a job in Australia that he believes his experience from Amazon and previous roles have readied him for.

The jobs are out there and he's been putting his hand up for them, but nothing's biting.

Over the past six months, James says he has applied for 10 to 20 jobs in the tech industry each week. By his own count, the would-be IT worker is up to 250 applications, and still, nothing.

"It's incredibly disappointing," he told news.com.au. "One thing I've started asking recruiters a lot is 'what have I done wrong?' They tell me 'you actually haven't, your resume's solid, your history is solid'.

"There's nothing wrong. It's just the mentality in this country is that you must have three years or you must have five years experience.

"They're looking for a number on a piece of paper but not looking at skills and ability. Why do I need specific experience when I have the ability to learn on the run?"

The jobs James has been applying for are mainly project manager, business analyst and delivery lead roles.

In the few call backs he's had, the 28-year-old says he's been told he was rejected because he doesn't have three years experience.

"The three-year mandate is an IT thing that's happened for the past 20 to 30 years. It's considered a good amount of time that you've learnt the job," he said. "The problem in Australia has become that no one wants to train anyone to get that three years to take on a more senior job.

"The mentality is if we train them, they leave, and then it's a waste of money. So, let's never train them."

James got in touch with news.com.au after reading an article about the tech industry's response to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's decision to restrict 457 visas, the program that allows companies to hire foreign workers to do jobs they can't find Australians with the right skills to fill.

In it, CEO of IT industry group TechSydney Dean McEvoy argued there were no available Australians that could fill some senior tech jobs.

"The thing to understand about the growing of fast growth technology company is it takes a very different skillset than the companies that exist already within the industry in Australia," he said. "Some of these are skills that can't really be taught, you only get them through experience. So the best way to learn is only by doing, and the only people who have done these jobs, at the moment, are overseas."

To this, James said: "I want to stay in Australia, I am qualified, yet no one wants me. Think about the benefits our country would have by upskilling the many IT workers already here instead of always wanting a 'senior' position and therefore pushing out the younger management material."

Encouraging training and giving Australians jobs first is the whole point of the government's proposed visa overhaul. The tech industry has been vocal in denying that it fails to give Australian workers sufficient training, and that it needs to have the capacity to hire foreign workers.

James doesn't know if 457 visa holders are taking the jobs he's applying for. He doesn't know who is.

He's not that worried either, because after six months of disappointment he was again approached and has already been accepted into the final round of interviews for a job at a leading tech company.

He says this is the danger the industry is causing itself, losing talent to the US and other labour markets by overlooking what right in front of it.

When he worked at Amazon, he said he'd have constant meetings with new teams, and every few meetings there'd be another Aussie in the room. He says they were all over campus, and that's just one company.

"Then you've got Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple, etc. Australians are everywhere because they have a good reputation and a different way of thinking, and that seems to be less valued in Australia than elsewhere in the world," he said.

"Australians have a great reputation. Great education, experience and a different way of thinking. Australians think differently and that is incredibly valuable, and it's something that Australian businesses have stopped seeing.

"It's really about the fact that the Australian industry is really not noticing the quality of people walking around their own country and they're losing them rapidly overseas. I'm now 28 and I'm not valued in this country. That hurts. That sucks."

News Corp Australia

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