Far flung yet familiar. Oh-so hot. It's no wonder that Australia is often dubbed the 'Land of Opportunity' for working Brits abroad.
If you find yourself daydreaming about escaping life in the UK and making a job move Down Under, check out our advice to turning that dream into a reality...
So, why Oz?
Each year thousands of Brits emigrate to Antipodean shores, with over 13,700 successful applications for the Australian skilled work visa in 2007-8. In certain sectors, the Australian job market is booming, and the Australian government welcomes those working in in-demand occupations with open arms. However, depending on your occupation and the type of visa you need in order to work, relocating can be a lengthy and complicated process.
To work in Australia you need to meet the country’s immigration requirements. In general, the key factors that increase your eligibility to work are:
- You are under 45 years old
- You have a tertiary or trade qualification
- You have a close family member living in Australia
- You have at least two years’ work experience
- You have been offered a job
- Your have an occupation on the Skills in Demand list
If you meet all or some of the factors above, there are four broad visa types you can apply for that will allow you to work:
Working holiday visa: Available to British passport holders under the age of 30, this enables you to stay in Australia for 12 months and work for up to six months with each employer. No specific skills are required to apply for the WHV.
Family migration: You have a close relative in Australia willing to sponsor you.
Skilled migration: You hold skills or special abilities that will contribute to the economy of Australia and other areas of Australian life.
Job-sponsored migration: An Australian company is willing to sponsor your move.
Skills in demand
Unless you have close family in Australia, the most common route is through skilled migration, where your eligibility to work is assessed on a points system and skills in demand are credited with high points. The Australian government regularly produces a Skills Occupation List (SOL), which lists the skills and occupations in demand in the country.
If your occupation is listed on the SOL, you are well placed to apply for a General Skilled Migrant visa and find work in your current occupation. In general, the areas of work in demand include engineering, IT, teaching and healthcare, plus jobs in trades such as electricians and plumbers. You can find the latest SOL and detailed information on the points system on the Australian government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website
If figuring out the best visa and filling in complicated documentation sounds like too much of a headache, overseas immigration agents can advise you on the best visa for you and submit your application. Some will also help you find work and settle once you have the visa stamp in your passport.
Whichever visa route suits you best, it’s worth having your qualifications translated into the Australian equivalent so they will be recognised by employers. The Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) can help with trade qualifications, while the Australian Education International-National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (AEI-NOOSR) can help with post-secondary academic qualifications.
Where to go
Now on to the fun bit: where to go? With a landmass larger than Europe, Australia is vast. Its landscapes are incredibly diverse, ranging from the iconic red desert of the Outback to tropical rainforests, bleach-blonde beaches and cosmopolitan urban cities around its coastline.
Major cities to find work include: Sydney, the financial capital in the east; Canberra, the seat of government in the south east; and Melbourne, a manufacturing hub in the south. There’s also Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to consider, plus lots of opportunities for expatriates in the country regions.
Salaries and quality of life
Aside from the amazing weather, expats who choose to stay in Australia often cite quality of life as their reason for staying. With salaries equal or often higher than in the UK, you can expect a great standard of living. That’s not to say houses are cheap, particularly in the major cities, but the huge amount of space in the country means you generally get more bang for your buck.
If all this sounds tempting, the Australian government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s website is the best place to start: http://www.immi.gov.au/