Flaws In Skilled Migration

The Australian skilled migration scheme has played a key role in addressing skills shortage in areas of demand. For many years many educated men and women considered Australia home through
04 Dec 2014 09:35
Flaws In Skilled Migration
Migrant construction workers

The Australian skilled migration scheme has played a key role in addressing skills shortage in areas of demand. For many years many educated men and women considered Australia home through its skilled migration system.

While the scheme legitimately provides permanent visa, it does not in any way guarantee accreditation of a professional to practice in her/his profession. This is a problem for all health and medical professions and almost all trade related areas. It is important to know here that historically most skilled migrants from Fiji are from professions like nursing, trades, education, and most recently IT and accounting.

Australia recognises the contribution of skilled migrants. Skilled professionals have played a significant role in addressing skills gap in urban and regional areas. Fijian professionals with bachelor degrees and trade qualifications have contributed towards Australia’s educated workforce, productivity, cultural fabric and multiculturalism which the country is proud of.

Skilled migrants are assessed in many areas before being granted visa. These assessments are in areas such as English language test, health assessment, police or criminal record, support by sponsors, and most importantly the education qualification and work experience is assessed by accrediting bodies which the Australian government recognises.

These assessments which are undertaken transparently provides a clear indication that skilled professionals are not only qualified and experienced,  but they are fit for purpose individuals and that they have met the health, security, and language test.

Despite these assessments thousands of individuals have faced the dilemma to find a job in their profession. This is particularly alarming in trade related areas such as electrical, plumbing, panel beating, and many other trade areas, and almost all health and medical professions.

The current system of skilled migration has many flaws. While on one hand skilled migrants are helping Australia to address ageing workforce and skills gap in areas of need, it does not take a moral responsibility on its new citizens. The skilled migration visa application requires applicants to assess their qualifications and skills with Australian accrediting bodies.

These bodies assess individual qualifications and skills by examining qualifications, learning outcomes of the course undertaken, work experience, current role and responsibilities, referee reports, Fiji National Provident Fund statements, and other documentation. If the qualification and skills are equivalent to Australian standards, the accrediting body provides a letter which the applicant attaches with the skilled migration application.

Once applicants are granted with skilled migration visa, they are faced with the dilemma to find a job in their profession. Although applicants have a letter from the accrediting bodies, employers in professions such as health and trades require skilled professionals to undertake further study in order to gain accreditation with the same body. For example, nurses who have undertaken Diploma in Nursing with years of work experience as a registered nurse are required to undertaken Bachelor Degree in Nursing to gain accreditation with Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (APHRA).

Similarly, professionals with trade qualification in electrical, plumbing, panel beating and other areas are required to undertake Certificate III or Diploma course in TAFE or other registered training organisation to upgrade their skills. Some areas such as plumbing require skilled trade professionals to work under qualified person to gain accreditation with Trade Recognition Australia (TRA).

Accrediting bodies such as APHRA, TRA and others have in the first instance assessed applicant qualification and skills in accordance to Australian standards. However upon arrival skills migrants in these professions are unable to directly practice and gain accreditation in their profession. On one hand the accreditation bodies provide letter of equivalence as part of skilled migration application, they later require professionals to undertake further study.

Many skilled professionals have changed their career in Australia due lack of recognition of their qualifications and experience. Some individuals are working in warehouses, trucking, retail, and other areas due to the current system. The current cost for application processing is more than $10,000 FJD. It is important to ensure that the cost and processing of application is value for money and it recognises the qualifications and experience of skilled professionals.

This problem could be solved if Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship and accrediting bodies as part of skills assessment provide accreditation to the professions so that they can practice in their profession upon arrival. It is also important that tertiary education institutions offering degrees, diplomas and trade qualification in Fiji ensure that their qualifications are comparable to those offered in Australia and New Zealand. This will ensure comparability of standards, credibility of degrees, and enable graduate mobility beyond Fiji.

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