The chance to unwind after work on a sun-drenched beach is not the only reason why Australia is the number one destination for expats (even though that sounds pretty amazing). For the career-minded traveller, the employment headlines also serve as a powerful draw. Consider our top five reasons why the prospects for Australian employees appear so rosy:
- Unemployment remains comparatively low at 5.1%
- 2017 was a spectacular year for employment with the largest increase for job creation on record
- Australia still boasts some of the highest average salaries in the world
- Employment throughout Australia is projected to increase across nearly all major industries up to 2023
- In terms of hours, holiday entitlements and workplace rights, the well-protected Australian employee enjoys conditions similar to the UK
Will you be in demand Down Under?
According to the Labour Market Information Portal, certain sectors are set to boom across Australia over the next five years.
- Health Care and Social Assistance (increasing by 250,300)
- Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (106,600)
- Construction (118,800)
- Education and Training (113,00)
In fact, the Department of Jobs and Small Business predicts more than half of the total employment growth to 2023 will be driven by these four industries combined.
In the wider picture, however, nearly four hundred skilled occupants are currently in medium to high demand across the whole of Australia. The following professions top the list: accountancy, civil and mechanical engineering, quantity surveying, computing and health (including anesthetists, dentists, paramedics, pediatricians, audiologists and midwives).
Some non-professional roles are experiencing staff shortfalls too. Employers find advertised vacancies in actuarial, sales and technical IT positions most difficult to fill. Apart from plasterers, bricklayers, arborists, stonemasons and glaziers, there is a largely sufficient supply of workers in the trades overall, although there are nationwide shortages for some technical occupations including air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics, electrical lines workers, automotive electricians, locksmiths, tilers, motor mechanics, cabinet makers and small engine mechanics. In the food industry, more pastry chefs, butchers and chefs are needed in every state.
While such figures bode well for skilled workers over the medium-term, it won’t always follow that Australia will need foreigners to meet the demand. The outlook for aspiring migrants gets more complex according to the role and region under considerations. Focused research will be needed to find out how you might fit into the job market in your chosen location.
Apart from the nationwide shortages outlined above, each state has specific shortages:
- New South Wales: Childcare centre managers, accountants, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, early childhood teachers, special education teachers, secondary school teachers, nurses, motorcycle mechanics, sheet metal workers, plumbers, and electricians
- Victoria: Architects, plumbers, electricians, carpenters and joiners
- Queensland: Nurses, pharmacists, welders, metal machinists, carpenters and joiners, and childcare workers
- South Australia: Childcare centre managers
- Western Australia: Pharmacists and plumbers
- Northern Territory: Special education teachers, occupational therapists, metal fabricators, welders, fitters, plumbers, electricians, childcare workers
- Tasmania: Electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, early childhood teachers, special education teachers, occupational therapists and pharmacists
So, once you’re set upon a particular city, state or territory, find out what skills are in demand there in greater detail using government reports published online.
Show me the money – wages and taxes
Although goods and services in Australia are undoubtedly pricey, the salaries offered across the board tend to compensate for the steep cost of living. For the majority of job-seekers then, Australia is mercifully not a cut-throat low-wage economy. When weighing up the wage on offer, however, it is important that aspiring migrants compare the net income rather than the gross salary to the equivalent at home. As a non-resident, you’ll pay considerably more tax than Australian residents. For example, foreign residents earning up to AU$90,000 pay a tax rate of 32.5%. Find out more information about tax rates here.
As soon as you arrive in Australia, you’ll also need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) in order to work. This is a unique number used to identify your tax records. You cannot apply before arrival in the country and you will need a mailing address. In order to avoid being taxed at an exorbitant rate, your most important task after finding a place to stay is applying for a TFN online. It should take a maximum of 28 days to arrive at your address.
Get the right stamp in your passport
Of course, young backpackers hoping to work their merry way around Australia for a year will opt for the famous Working Holiday visa. For those seeking a more permanent move, most migrants to Australia will come either as a sponsored migrant or on a skilled migrant visa. A reality check about sponsorship: employers may consider sponsoring a top-tier foreign candidate if they can’t find someone appropriate in Australia, but only the most stellar candidates in industries with a talent deficit can really hope for an all-expenses-paid transfer. The majority of migrants will therefore need to apply for a skilled migrant visa.
The system of visas for which you may be eligible is not only complex, but comes with certain conditions by which the applicant must abide. Use the questionnaire on the Department of Home Affairs website to find out which visa category is right for you.
- Submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect and find out if your occupation is subject to a further skills assessment or points test.
- Fingers crossed, you will then be invited to apply for a skilled migration visa within a deadline of 60 days.
- Complete your applications by nominating an occupation from the skilled occupations lists.
The applicant then faces a nail-biting six to twelve month wait to find out if their visa will be granted.
Are your qualifications up to scratch?
Before you even think of packing up your stuff, it would be wise to check that your qualifications are valid in Australia. Check out this list of assessing authorities to find out if your qualifications will need to be confirmed by a relevant professional organisation. In some cases, your job prospects could be seriously hampered or blocked unless you complete a bridging course or additional study.
Good news for teachers at least: as long as you have Qualified Teacher Status (QTS), a degree and/or a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) and at least five years of teaching experience, you should be eligible to teach in Australia on the Commonwealth Teacher Exchange Programme (CTRP).
Get ready for some serious job-hunting
If you’ re arriving in Australia on a non-sponsored skilled migrant visa, it is a bright idea to have interviews and meetings lined up before you even get on a plane. So try to get your job-hunting off to a flying start weeks or even months in advance.
Your first step should be to go online. The government-run database Jobsearch.gov.au has a plethora of positions listed by location, occupation and industry. The pick of the commercial job sites is Seek.com.au, followed by Jobs.com.au, Careerone.com.au and Careerjet.com.au.
Once you have decided where you want to live, the local branches of international recruitment agencies should be your next port of call. Recruiters such as Adecco, Manpower and Hays have offices dotted around Australia to help both professions and tradespeople find a position. Get in touch with agents who specialise in your occupation to let them know what you’re looking for before you arrive. The vacancies listed on their websites can also give you a clearer idea of how Australian salaries vary by experience, position and location.
Beyond that, here are some further job-hunting tactics to maximise your chances of getting a job before you go.
- Squeeze your network: ask family, friends and colleagues for the email addresses of contacts in Australia who might be able to help in your job hunt
- Connect with your fellow professionals: contact the relevant Australian professional body in your sector for any tips about finding employment and ask if they have a vacancies section in their journal or newsletter
- Become a contributor on expat blogs and forums and you might get some leads about who is hiring in your chosen profession
- Are there trade directories online? If not, try persuading a contact in Australia to visit the library to do some scanning on your behalf. With a list of companies in contention, you can fire off speculative letters to ask for a meeting upon arrival
- Does your resume look sufficiently Australian? Succinct one-pagers may be the norm at home, but Australian resumes tend to be longer and more detailed. So, don’t fight shy of running up to three or four pages if necessary. Weed out any overly colloquial British-English phrases in your accompanying email or letter.
Repatriating wages back to the UK?
If you need to repatriate any money you make working Down Under, our personal money transfer services could save you time and money.
If you would rather be your own boss
For those who would prefer to work for themselves, Australia’s regulatory system geared towards entrepreneurialism is an enticing prospect. Make sure you read our tips here for advice on how to set up shop in Australia successfully.