An initiative introduced by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) offers skilled migrants in Australia a free, fast-tracked skills assessment.
Skills shortages in the labour market in certain sectors, amplified by border closures resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, have been recognised by the Australian Government as problems requiring an urgent fix. The seriousness of the situation has led to unique and powerful incentives that could benefit about 9500 onshore migrants.
The Migrant Skills Incentives include not just faster migrant skills assessment processes, but free, fast-tracked skills assessments for onshore migrants who reside in Australia on a permanent family, partner, humanitarian or refugee visa.
One particular incentive is available to migrants who have never undergone a skills assessment and who have skills, qualifications and/or experience directly relevant to a priority occupation.
Priority occupations in engineering include:
- Civil engineers
- Structural engineers
- Transport engineers
- Electrical engineers
- Mechanical engineers
- Mining engineers
- Petroleum engineers
“This program represents quite a dramatic difference to the time an assessment would typically take,” said Engineers Australia Senior Manager Assessments Robin Liu.
“A normal assessment might take 16 to 18 weeks. A previously paid, fast-tracked assessment might take 20 working days. This free offer, running from February 28, 2022 to June 30, 2023 provides an outcome within 15 working days.”
What engineers need to know
Engineers Australia, as an assessing authority, will manage the assessment process for those in the engineering profession.
“We need to promote and communicate this out into various communities to make this solution work,” said Liu, himself a migrant engineer. “We’re talking about people who have a permanent visa but haven’t done any assessment with us in the past.
“The fundamental challenge is for engineers and engineering firms to reach out to the larger community, to spread news of this opportunity out to anybody they think might be eligible, to get people assessed and increase the talent pool.”
To take advantage of opportunities that come from this process, Liu said, it’s also beneficial for those in engineering to understand the assessment process and its significance.
“Applicants who already have a permanent visa can work without limit in Australia,” he said. “Our assessment process is to confirm that they are a suitable qualified engineer whose qualifications are recognised as equivalent to an Australian engineering degree.”
What’s in it for engineering businesses?
Why is it important that skilled migrant incentives are developed and promoted out to the right people? Because the profession thrives on talent, knowledge and experience from around the globe, Engineers Australia’s Chief Engineer Jane MacMaster FIEAust CPEng told create.
“At the last census 58 per cent of Australia’s engineering team were born overseas and skilled migrants play a crucial role in maintaining Australia’s engineering capability,” she said.
“There are a large number of skilled, experienced migrant engineers who are already within the country who are not employed in an engineering role. Incentives like these can meaningfully contribute to improving employment outcomes and alleviating skills supply challenges.”
But without enough knowledge around the potential influx of migrant engineering talent, organisations might find they’re missing out on powerful, new opportunities. Despite demand for engineers being the highest in a decade.
“There remains a challenge in having Australian employers recognise and value the overseas experience that skilled migrant engineers bring,” MacMaster said.
“There is an opportunity for engineering firms to gain access to considerable experience if they are willing to invest in training to impart the required local (Australian) knowledge to enable them to contribute their capabilities to the fullest extent.
“Engineers Australia is actively working on a range of initiatives to help address barriers to skilled migrant employment both from a skilled migrant perspective and from the employer’s perspective.”
Finally, Liu said, there’s the fact that engineers have always helped, supported, mentored and promoted other engineers.
“The intention here is as important as the business case,” he said. “The intention from Engineers Australia is to help migrant engineers better embed themselves into our community for the long term.
“The first step is having this assessment, for free, to have their skills and knowledge recognised. That’s an excellent start.”