Five organisations have signed up to the government\u2019s pilot Global Talent Scheme (GTS) program, launched in July in a bid to make it easier for big business and tech start-ups to hire overseas talent for highly skilled roles.\nThe announcementof the GTS program in March came in thewake of criticismofAustralia\u2019s migration regime by tech companiesfollowing the removal of the 457 temporary visa class.\n \nMedical device-maker Cochlear, SFDC Australia (better known as Salesforce), miner Rio Tinto and workplace health and safety app-maker SafetyCulture have signed up to the 12 months trial in the \u2018established business\u2019 stream of the scheme.\n \nQuantum technology start-up Q-CTRL is the first to access a scheme agreement under the \u2018start-up stream\u2019, the government revealed today.\n \n"Australia\u2019s skilled migration program is about recruiting the best and brightest migrants \u2013 those who are going to work, help grow the economy and commit to Australian values," Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Colemansaid in a statement.\n \n"Australia\u2019s skilled migration program is about recruiting the best and brightest migrants \u2013 those who are going to work, help grow the economy and commit to Australian values," he added.\n \nIn its mid-year economic financial outlook (MYEFO), released this week, the government committed $12.9 million over three years towards a \u2018Global Talent Initiative\u2019\n \nIt said the initiative (GTI) builds on the GTS as well as its Business Innovation and Investment program, and Distinguished Talent program.\n \nThe GTI will \u201callocate up to 5,000 places drawn from the non-nominated and non-sponsored skilled cohort of the annual migration program\u201d the document states.\n \nThe initiative will also involve the promotion of the country \u201cto skilled individuals in key overseas locations\u201d including the USA, India, Europe and Singapore.\n \n457 fix\n \nThe GTS pilot was touted as a fix for therestrictive nature of the Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa which was introduced in March. The TSS \u2013 which replaced the 457 visa class \u2013 tightened the requirements for individuals wanting to get an employer sponsored work visa in Australia. \nThe list of eligible occupations was shortened, stricter English language requirements were introduced and the overall cost of the visa was raised. As under the previous visa regime, businesses sponsoring workers must demonstrate they are unable to source suitable individuals in Australia.\n \nWorkers sponsored under the GTS are issued a four-year Temporary Skill Shortage visa will be issued with permanent residence able to be applied for after three years.\n \nSpeaking in Marchat a Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes said the scrapping of the457 temporary visa classhad \u201cdamaged Australia\u2019s reputation in the largest industry in the world\u201d.\n \n\u201cWe\u2019ve said to the global tech industry, we are fundamentally closed for business,\u201d he said.\n \nGoogle, whose submissionto the government\u2019spublic consultation on the development of a digital economy strategywasmade public in January, has also criticised the government\u2019s changes to the visa system.\n \n\u201cBusiness-critical skills have been excluded from the longer term visa categories that are necessary to attract workers with the knowledge and experience required to train younger Australian employees,\u201d Google argued in its submission.\nPositive step\n \nThe government said it was \u201ccontinuing to work with industry on the implementation and refinement of the scheme\u201d to ensure it delivers on its aim to offer \u201cmore flexible visa arrangements to help attract global talent to Australia\u201d.\n \nStartups\u2019 eligibility to access the scheme will be determined by a new independent expert panel made up of \u201cmembers from a cross-section of the Australian startup sector and emerging technological industries\u201d.\n \nA survey by specialist recruiters Robert Half in September found 93 per cent of chief information officers support the scheme. A little over half (56 per cent) of the CIOs questioned believed the GTS will succeed in reducing the IT skills shortage in Australia. A similar number said it would help increase productivity.\n \nCommenting today, Cochlear chief executive officer, Dig Howittsaid the GTS was a \u201cpositive step forward\u201d towards securing a pipeline of international technology talent.\n \n"Australian companies, like Cochlear can only succeed on the world stage if we have access to global talent," he said.