Moving Down Under and looking for work? Here are some tips on how to find a job in Australia.
Even though the Australian economy is in a healthy state, jobs in Australia can still be hard to come by for non-English-speaking migrants. However, if you’ve got relevant skills and qualifications, your chances of finding work will be much better.Many migrants head to Australia with dreams of a better life: a stable environment, better living conditions and unlimited opportunities for employment. While Australia is a great place to raise a family, finding a job in the land Down Under might not be as easy as you think.
Of course, it’s important to go in with a realistic mindset when you start looking for work in your new home country. While you may not land your perfect job right away, there are plenty of steps you can take to make your employment prospects brighter.
Areas of employment
Throughout the 20th century and into the early 21st century, Australia’s economic growth and success was largely based on its abundance of agricultural, mineral and fuels resources. However, as the country gradually shifts towards a knowledge-based economy, new opportunities for employment are opening up.
Growing industries in Australia
It will come as no surprise that the mining industry is still one of the leading sectors of employment in Australia, with the iron ore mining industry still at the top of the list. This is not to say that other areas of the economy aren’t experiencing rapid growth. Sectors such as gas and agribusiness have bright futures, while others like international education and wealth management are already delivering increased employment prospects.
As Australia has an ageing population, sectors related to aged and health care are expected to see significant growth. This includes residential aged care, retirement living. and the digital delivery of health services. Other growth sectors include; information and communications technology, tourism, internet publishing and broadcasting, and online retail.
Most state governments will publish information about current job prospects, including areas where there are skills shortages, on their websites. This can help you gather an accurate idea of whether or not your skill set will be in demand in the area which you are planning on moving to when you do actually move.
The Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection publishes a list of skilled occupations on its website. This information can come in handy for those who want to nominate skilled occupations for permanent and temporary skilled migration Down Under.
In order to obtain a skilled visa, you might have to undergo a skills assessment as part of your visa application. This will help provide skills recognition for the training and qualifications you have received overseas.
If you’re not particular about where you work in Australia, you might like to consider working in more remote areas of the country. There is constant demand for regional workers as, due to their lack of proximity away from capital cities, they are often prone to skills shortages in certain sectors. Recognising this fact, the Australian Government offers the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187). This visa is designed for skilled workers who want to work in regional Australia and is open to any skilled worker under the age of 50 who has been nominated by an approved Australian employer for regional work.
This is a permanent resident visa which can be applied for either overseas or in Australia, but only once you’ve been nominated by an approved Australian employer. This visa offers three streams for migrants:
- The Temporary Residence Transition stream. This is for 457 visa holders who have worked for two years in the same position with their employer, and the employer now wants to offer them a permanent position.
- The Direct Entry stream. This stream is for people nominated under the Direct Entry stream. They include people who have never or only briefly worked in Australia, and temporary residents who do not qualify for the above stream.
- The Agreement stream. This final stream is for people nominated by their employer through a labour agreement.
If you have not been nominated by an approved Australian employer for regional work, you can still place an expression of interest through SkillSelect where a prospective employer or government agent may view your details and potentially nominate you for employment.
There are a number of working visas available for those looking to find a job in Australia, each of which has different eligibility requirements and comes with different rights and restrictions. These include:
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457)
This visa is designed for skilled workers who are sponsored or nominated by a business to work in Australia for a temporary period of time. It is available for up to four years, and the occupation the migrant is to fill must be on the prevailing Consolidated Skilled Occupations List. (SOL)
Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186)
This permanent visa requires migrants to be nominated by an employer and meet certain English language skill and skills assessment requirements, as pertains to whichever stream they are applying for.
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visa (subclass 187)
This permanent visa requires you to be nominated for a position by an employer from regional Australia to work in regional Australia. It consists of three stream (as outlined above). For the Direct Entry stream, overseas-qualified trade workers will need to have their skills assessed by Trades Recognition Australia. The occupation must be an ANZSCO skill level 1-3.
Skilled—Independent visa (subclass 189)
Applicants must undergo skills testing to qualify for this permanent visa. The nominated occupation must be on the Skilled Occupation List and you will need to have your skills assessed by the relevant authority.
Skilled—Nominated visa (subclass 190)
This permanent visa is available to those applicants who have been nominated by a state or territory government. This visa is points tested and the nominated occupation must be on the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List.
Skilled—Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)
This visa is available for applicants who have been sponsored by an eligible relative or applicants who have been nominated by a state/territory government. It is available for up to four years and allows you to live, work and study in a regional area.
Working Holiday visa (subclass 417)
If you’re aged between 18 and 31 and want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year, this is the visa for you. You are able to work for up to six months with each employer, study for up to four months, and leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you like while the visa is valid. Note that this visa is only available to citizens of eligible countries.
Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485)
If you’re a recent graduate of an Australian educational institution with either an eligible qualification or with skills and qualifications related to an occupation on the skilled occupation list (SOL) and would like to gain work experience in Australia, then the 485 is a great option. It lets you work in Australia for up to four years, depending on which stream you qualify for.
Student visas are available for the Higher Education Sector (subclass 573), the Postgraduate Research Sector (subclass 574), the Vocational Education and Training Sector (subclass 572) and the English Language Course Sector (subclass 570). If you are successful in obtaining a student visa, you can study and work (with restriction) in Australia.
Where to look for work in Australia
If you’re planning on moving to Australia or if you’ve already arrived, there is no shortage of options when it comes to looking for work. A good place to start searching is through online job search websites such as seek.com.au, mycareer.com.au and careerone.com.au. These sites list tens of thousands of jobs across all employment sectors.
Of course, you might want to seek out the services of a respected recruitment agency to help you in your job search. These agencies can help match you with a suitable job for your training and qualifications and seek out prospective employers for you.
Students looking for work experience or temporary work can look on university job boards or community notice boards to find work. You can also find listings on a number of websites that might not be specifically jobs-based, such as gumtree.com.au.
Finally, you can also seek job-hunting assistance from a registered migration agent. As well as helping you apply for your visa, migration agents can help you understand the ins and outs of finding work on certain visas within Australia.
Financial aid: human services and Centrelink
Human Services, also known as Centrelink is a government agency that provides a wide range of social security payments and services. It’s suggested that new residents of Australia register with Human Services (Centrelink) to receive help finding work, having their overseas skilled recognised, access relevant courses needed for work, and to see if they're eligible for social security payments.
New migrants to Australia looking for work might also qualify for government assistance in the form of a Newstart Allowance. The allowance is for anyone who’s older than 22 but too young to receive the pension. In order to qualify for the Newstart Allowance, you’ll need to be looking for paid work, take an income and assets test, and possibly take an activity test to prove you are looking for work. To access the Newstart Allowance, newly arrived residents generally have a 104 week waiting period, though there are exemptions. Nevertheless, this allowance can help you find your feet in Australia and manage financially until you find employment.
If you are in Australia for humanitarian reasons you may be eligible for Crisis Payments in addition to social security payments. In this instance, you must claim your payments within seven days of arriving in Australia, or contact Centrelink with the intent to claim within seven days of arrival and lodge the claim within two weeks after that.
New migrants might also be eligible for Family Assistance payments, which are funded by the Australian government, if they are arriving in the country with children. This Family Assistance can help to pay for the cost of raising your children.
Educational qualifications to work in Australia
Many new migrants to Australia possess a range of qualifications and skills that they’ve gained in their home country. However, as a general rule, many Australian employers will value local experience above overseas experience. As a result, you’ll need to ascertain whether or not those qualifications will be recognised in Australia.
There are a number of ways you can go about getting your overseas professional qualifications recognised in Australia. This stage is referred to as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Major professional industry associations are a good place to start looking for details on industry requirements for the assessment of your professional qualifications. In fact, many of these organisations are in charge of assessing those qualifications.
The National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) can assess your overseas qualifications in terms of how they fit into the Australian Qualifications Framework. This service is offered at a fee.
Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) can also help out when it comes to RPL. These organisations can determine whether there are any gaps in the knowledge you’ve acquired overseas and the knowledge you’d acquire if you obtain a similar qualification in Australia.
If your overseas degree is not equivalent to an Australian qualification, you may be able to seek employment in your chosen occupation but at a lower entry level. However, remember that certain occupations in Australia, such as those in the healthcare sector, require you to pass examinations first.
If your qualifications aren’t recognised, or if there are gaps in the knowledge you’ve acquired overseas, you might like to seek further study to fill these gaps and obtain relevant qualifications to meet Australian standards. Referred to as ‘gap training’ or ‘up-skilling’, this training can be undertaken at relevant universities or higher education institutions.
What you legally need to work in Australia
In order to legally find work in Australia, you’ll need to satisfy a number of requirements. The most important item on the list is a relevant visa. Although you can see an extensive list of visas above, most newcomers to Australia arrive on the 457.
In order to find employment, you may need to get your overseas qualifications translated into English. This includes your formal qualifications, transcripts with details of the subjects you studied, plus any other supporting documentation. Both the Community Relations Commission and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) National provide this service free of charge to migrants who’ve been in Australia for less than two years.
In some cases - such as when you’re applying for recognition of your qualifications - you’ll need to provide certified copies of your qualifications. This involves getting your copies signed by a Justice of the Peace.
You’ll also need a CV that outlines your training, experience and qualifications. Most employers require this to be in English. You can seek help putting your CV together from a number of online agencies or recruitment consultants if required.
Depending on your chosen occupation, you might need to be licensed or registered to be legally allowed to work in Australia. Occupations that require this includes, but aren’t limited, to electricians, registered nurses and secondary school teachers. Each Australian state and territory has its own rules regarding licensing and registration, and you can start your search for information on exactly what you’ll have to do at the Australian Skills Recognition Information Portal.
Finally, you’ll also need to get a Tax File Number (TFN) to work in Australia. This is your personal reference number for use in Australia’s tax and superannuation systems, and is used to help you lodge tax returns, change jobs and keep track of your super. You can apply for a TFN online at www.ato.gov.au or you can pick up an application form from your local Australia Post Office.
Tax and GST
To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, death and taxes are two of life’s guaranteed certainties. This is no different in Australia, and you’ll need to pay tax on your salary and wages. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) considers you a resident for tax purposes if you have always lived in Australia, have come to Australia to live, have been in Australia for more than half of the income year (conditions apply), or are an overseas student enrolled in a course that’s more than six-months long.
If you earn less than $18,200 per year, you will not have to pay any tax. However, you will still have to inform the ATO of this through your tax return. If you run a business with a turnover of $75,000 or more, on top of having to lodge a tax return, you’ll also have to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The vast majority of workers in Australia are protected by the National Employment Standards. These Standards set out ten minimum rights and conditions for all Australian workers, including everything from working hours and annual leave, to long service leave and redundancy pay.
Know that everyone working in Australia, regardless of their background, has basic rights at work which entitle them to a minimum wage, breaks and rest periods, a healthy and safe work environment, and the ability to challenge unfair dismissals from your job. For more information on your rights at work, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman site.
Annual leave and superannuation
Under the National Employment Standards, Australian workers are entitled to certain rights. It’s important that migrants in Australia take the time to understand their rights in order to ensure that they are treated fairly. For example, every full-time worker is entitled to at least four weeks of paid annual leave per year, while some shift workers get an extra week. In addition, paid parental leave is also available for both mothers and fathers.
Many non-residents of Australia can also benefit from mandatory superannuation contributions made by their employer. You can also make voluntary personal contributions to your super in order to build your balance and take advantage of tax breaks. Superannuation becomes available to you when you retire or, if you’re a temporary resident, you may be able to claim your benefits when you permanently depart Australia through a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP). This allows you to receive the equivalent of your superannuation minus tax of 35% and can typically be processed online.
If you’re planning on working in Australia, one of the questions on the tip of your tongue will most likely be, “How much will I be able to earn?”. As a guideline, take a look at the average salaries in the following sectors:
- Mining, resources and energy: $116,895
- Engineering: $103,588
- Information and communication technology: $99,492
- Healthcare and medical: $87,117
- Accounting: $83,538
- Education and training: $73,111
NB: Figures are taken from seek.com.au and are in Australian dollars.
Minimum wage rates apply to those occupations that fall under awards. Casual employees receive extra pay to make up for the fact that they do not receive benefits like annual leave or notice of termination.
One of the most important things you’ll be considering after landing in Australia is where to find work. Depending on your skillset and visa, this might be easy or this might be hard, but the opportunities are there, as are financial assistance and job-hunting help for migrants. Best of luck.