Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) has announced changes to the Trade Skills Assessment programs for TSS, OSAP and TRS. The following changes apply to all applications received from 1st March 2019.
1. Changes to the employment and training requirements for Pathway 1 assessments
The amount of verifiable employment evidence a Pathway 1 applicant must submit for their nominated occupation has been changed as follows:
• Licensed trade with no formal training – six years work experience
• Licensed trade with formal training – four years work experience
• Non-licensed trade with no formal training – five years work experience
• Non-licensed trade with formal training – three years work experience.

Additionally, all applicants must have completed at least 12 months of employment in their nominated occupation in the three years prior to lodging their application.
*TRA has defined ‘formal training’ as training that aligns with the national training standards in the applicant’s country of training.

Student placements

Student placements
What is a vocational placement?
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Student placements (PDF 154.3KB)
Vocational placements provide students with the opportunity to apply the theory and skills they learned while studying in a professional workplace.

Under these arrangements students can gain the skills they need to transition successfully from study to work, while giving industry the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates.

Vocational placements that meet the definition under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) are lawfully unpaid. Students completing vocational placements are not considered to be employees and therefore are not entitled to the minimum wage nor other entitlements provided under the FW Act.

What is a vocational placement?
Under the FW Act, a vocational placement is lawfully unpaid if it meets all the following criteria:

There must be a placement. This can be arranged by the educational or training institution, or a student may initiate the placement with an individual business directly, in line with the requirements of their course.
There must be no entitlement to pay for the work the student undertakes. Where a student’s contract with the host business or organisation entitles them to receive money for the work they perform, the vocational placement will likely have turned into an employment relationship. Similarly, work arrangements covered by industrial awards or agreements are not vocational placements.
The placement must be done as a requirement of an education or training course. The placement must be a required component of the course as a whole, or of an individual subject or module of the course. It doesn’t matter whether that subject is compulsory or an elective chosen by the student.
The placement must be one that is approved. The institution delivering the course which provides for the placement must be authorised under an Australian, state or territory law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth or a state or territory to do so. Courses offered at universities, TAFE colleges and schools (whether public or private) will all satisfy this requirement, as will bodies authorised to offer training courses under state or territory legislation.
When all of the above criteria are satisfied, hosts are not required to pay students entitlements under the FW Act. However, a host may elect to provide payment(s) at their discretion and under no obligation.

If the placement doesn’t meet all of the above criteria, it won’t be a vocational placement under the FW Act. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that the person is an employee and entitled to payment. The next step is to determine whether or not the person is in an employment relationship.

For more information on determining whether or not an employment relationship exists see our Unpaid Work Fact Sheet

Example 1
Katrina is in her 3rd year of a nursing degree. As part of her course, Katrina is required to complete a minimum of 4 weeks’ work experience with a registered hospital in her state in order to graduate. Katrina approaches her local hospital as they have a pre-existing relationship with her university and have regular student placements. The placement is authorised by her university, and Katrina understands it is a learning exercise and that she won’t be paid. As the arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

Example 2
Jayne is in her final year of a mechanical engineering degree and has completed her formal class studies. As a requirement to graduate, Jayne has to organise professional engineering work experience at a business for 12 weeks. While Jayne has to organise the placement herself, the University has strict criteria about needing to assess an employer to ensure her vocational placement provides the relevant learning environment, and gives final sign-off on the placement. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

If the business decides to get Jayne to sign an employment contract and pay her wages for her work, it may turn the placement into an employment relationship. If an employment relationship is created, Jayne is entitled to at least the legal minimum rate of pay for the type of work she is performing.

Example 3
Mitchell is choosing his elective units for the following year’s study as part of his undergraduate degree. One of the electives is a 3 month unpaid placement organised by the university at a host business that provides a structured learning experience related to his degree. This placement counts as credit towards meeting his total course requirement. Because the elective forms part of his course, Mitchell’s placement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

While the FW Act does not provide entitlements to students doing vocational placements, there may still be obligations in other legislation, such as those about work health and safety or discrimination that apply to them…/unpaid-work/student-placements

Changes to Job Ready Program – TRA

Changes to Job Ready Program – TRA

Trades Recognition Australia has made changes to the Job Ready Program (JRP).
Electronic lodgement of JRP application documents
TRA will now accept application documents for the JRP by email.
The JRP Participant Guidelines have been updated and provide clear instructions on how to send documents to TRA for each step of the JRP. If documents are received in a format other than those outlined in the Guidelines, they will be returned unprocessed.
Verification of Work Statements for a Provisional Skills Assessment (PSA)
To apply for a PSA, applicants must provide work statement/s to support a minimum of 360 hours of employment and/or a vocational placement relevant to their qualification and nominated occupation, completed in an Australian workplace.
TRA verifies employment and vocational placements by contacting the person who signed the work statement/s. TRA must be able to link the signatory’s landline or mobile telephone number/s to the business or RTO before contact is made. Once a link has been established, TRA will only attempt contact three times. If a link to the business or RTO cannot be established, the signatory will not be contacted. If the signatory cannot be contacted or does not respond to call back requests from TRA, the work will not be able to be verified and the application will be unsuccessful.

Posted in TRA

GSM for Trade Occupations

Australia has a shortage of trades workers – suitably qualified and experienced trades people from overseas have always been welcomed in Australia and have great employment prospects.

There are a number of different migration pathway options available – this article goes through the main requirements for trades workers migrating through the points tested General Skilled Migration program.

Nominating a Skilled Occupation

First you would need to choose an occupation to apply for a skills assessment in.
The choice would depend mainly on your qualifications and work experience, but it is best to nominate an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List (SOL) if possible.

There are a wide range of trades on the SOL – including construction trades, automotive trades, metal workers and chefs.

Even if you do not have an occupation on the SOL, it is still possible to apply for migration by obtaining sponsorship by a state or territory government – many states and territories have trades occupations on their State Migration Plans.

Skills Assessment

The first step in applying for general skilled migration is to get your skills assessed as suitable to work in your trade in Australia.
The correct pathway can be difficult to determine – it will depend on your trade, passport country and whether you’ve studied in Australia. The main pathways are as follows:

1. Trade Test

If you are in certain trades and have a passport from certain countries, you must go through the trade test pathway.
The first step would involve providing evidence of your trade qualifications and work experience in your trade. Overall, you must show that you have worked and studied for at least 5 years in your occupation, or 3 years if you have an Australian trade certificate.

The second step requires either a technical interview or a practical test. The technical interview would normally be done via Skype through an approved venue and involves you explaining how you would undertake certain tasks. The practical test is required for licensed trades, and requires you to demonstrate your skills in person.

2. Paper Assessment – Migration Skills Assessment

This would be done via the TRA’s “Migration Skills Assessment” pathway. This option would require you to have a formal trade qualification – either an apprenticeship or vocational qualification. You would also need to have work experience of at least 3 years, and to have worked for at least 12 months in your trade in the last 3 years.
If you do not have a formal qualification, it is possible to have a qualification issued via Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) – in this case you would need to show at least 6 years of work experience in your trade to pass skills assessment.

TRA requires applications to be “decision ready” – any mistake or omission will result in a refusal so it is important to ensure that the application is prepared carefully.

3. Job Ready Program

This option is available for international students who have completed a trade qualification in Australia – generally this would need to be at the Certificate III level or higher.
There are two main parts to the Job Ready Program (JRP) application.

Firstly, you would obtain a provisional skills assessment by showing that you have completed a relevant qualification in Australia and have worked in a relevant position for at least 360 hours. You would use the provisional skills assessment to apply for an 18-month Graduate Temporary subclass 485 visa.

Secondly, you would work full time in your trade in Australia for 1725 hours (approx. 12 months). The work must be registered with TRA by the employer, and you would need to keep a log book of your work. Towards the end of your 1725 hours, you would have a practical trade test and only then would you be issued a skills assessment you can use for a permanent visa application.

Skilled Migration Points Test

Next, you would need to obtain at least 60 points in the skilled migration points test.
You can score points for a number of different factors, including:

Your Age
Skilled Work Experience – you can score points for work experience either in Australia or overseas
English language ability – to score points, you would need to undertake English language testing
Australian Studies
State Nomination
SkillSelect EOI System

Once you have sufficient points, you would lodge an Expression of Interest (EOI) through SkillSelect.
It is not possible to apply directly for a General Skilled Migration visa – you must first be invited through SkillSelect.

State Nomination (Optional)

If you do not have an SOL occupation, you would apply for state nomination after lodging your EOI. States and territories have their own criteria for state nomination – this would in general require you to demonstrate your work experience, English language ability and commitment to living in the state or territory.
Visa Application

Once you have received your invitation through SkillSelect, you have 60 days lodge your visa application.
You will need to provide documentation on the points you claimed in your EOI, so it’s very important that the EOI is completed accurately.

You and your family members will be asked to complete health and police checks. Once your application is granted, you would generally have 12 months from completing your health and police checks to enter Australia for the first time.

IELTS 6 overall for 485, IELTS 5 overall for 457

The new English requirements for both the Post Study Work Stream and Graduate Work Stream:

  • Hold a passport from the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada or New Zealand; or
  • IELTS (Academic or General Training): overall average of 6 and at least 5 in each band; or
  • Occupational English Test (OET): B Pass in each band; or
  • Pearson (PTE Academic): overall average of 50 with at least 36 in each band; or
  • TOEFL iBT (Internet Based Test): total score of 64, with at least 4 in Listening and Reading, and at least 14 in Writing and Speaking; or
  • Cambridge (CAE): 169 overall average with at least 154 in each band.


The required English test scores for 457 visas are now as follows:

  • IELTS: overall average score of 5, with a minimum score of at least 4.5 in each band; or
  • OET: “B pass” is required for all 4 components of the OET; or
  • TOEFL iBT: total band score of 36, with at least 3 in Listening and Reading and at least 12 in Speaking and Writing; or
  • PTE Pearson Test of English (Academic): Average band score of 36, with minimum of 30 in each band; or
  • CAE Cambridge English: Advanced: Average band score of 154, with minimum of 147 in each band.

Validity of TRA skills assessments

Validity of TRA skills assessments

From 1 July 2014 skills assessments issued by TRA or a TRA approved RTO and lodged in support of certain types of skilled visa applications must be no older than three years from the date of issue.
Skills assessments issued by TRA or a TRA approved RTO in support of visa applications lodged with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection prior to 1 July 2014 will not be affected.
This change follows the amendment of the Migration Regulations effective from 1 July 2014. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that a skills assessment meets the current occupational requirements for the nominated occupation in Australia.

Coalition opens way for foreign chefs, brickies

THOUSANDS of foreign chefs, bricklayers and tilers will no longer have to be sponsored by employers to obtain permanent visas, as the Abbott government eases skilled migration rules to address alleged labour shortages.

Under changes backed by business groups, the three professions have been added to the Skilled Occupation List from July, meaning these workers will be able to apply for a permanent visa without requiring a sponsor.

Unions attacked the changes as unjustified given employers had recently said there were having “little difficulty’’ finding workers in the building industry.

Documents seen by The Weekend Australian also show the agency that recommended the changes acknowledged the inclusion of chefs could result in “exploitation of the training system for permanent residency’’.

Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb said the tourism sector faced labour and skills shortages, with an additional 56,000 workers required by next year, including 26,000 skilled positions.

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash said the addition of the three professions would be welcomed in regional areas where there was increased demand for these jobs but “a decrease in apprenticeship completions’’.

“As an island nation with a small population, a sustainable human capital strategy for Australia must be readily available to safeguard business from labour and skills shortages,’’ Senator Cash said.

“However, it would be simplistic to say that there is always an Australian willing and available to fill a particular position in various geographical locations within Australia, and it is the role of the skilled migration program to fill the gap.’’

Under the general skilled migration program, professionals and other skilled migrants can enter Australia without being sponsored by an employer. While they have to nominate an occupation on the skilled occupation list, there is no obligation for them to work in that occupation.

The government has capped the program at 43,990 skilled visas next financial year. For each of the professions on the list, the number of positions available is capped at 6 per cent of the occupation’s workforce.

Senator Cash said the government had decided to set the cap for chefs at 3 per cent for an initial six months.

According to the ABS Labour Force survey, about 76,100 chefs, 23,360 bricklayers and 15,800 floor and wall tilers work in Australia.

Under the 3 per cent cap, up to 2283 overseas chefs could apply for a place in the program, rising to 4566 if the cap went to 6 per cent. For bricklayers, the maximum number would be 1401, and 948 for floor and wall tilers.

Senator Cash stressed the changes would not result in thousands of extra foreign workers coming to Australia. Given total places remained capped at the same level, the entry of additional chefs, bricklayers and tilers would result in less places being approved among the existing 188 occupations on the list.

United Voice, the union representing chefs, said it did not accept there was a “skills gap’’ among chefs.

“The industry has got no problems attracting staff in Australia, the industry has a problem keeping staff,’’ said the union’s acting national secretary, David O’Byrne. “It has high turnover, low wages and highly casualised labour.”

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union pointed to the latest national survey by the Master Builders, which found the degree of difficulty in finding employees and subcontractors decreased in the March quarter.

“All categories are close to record lows with little difficulty finding employees or subcontractors in the building industry,” the survey said.

Dave Noonan, the national secretary of the CFMEU’s construction division, said the policy change “again demonstrates that the Abbott government does not have the interests of working Australians at heart’’.

Master Builders acting chief executive Richard Calver said the survey also showed “strong growth in the residential construction sector’’.

In recommending the changes, the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency said the inclusion of chefs “presents risk in terms of exploitation of the training system for permanent residency purposes’’ as had occurred prior to 2010. It said the risk had been diminished by policy changes.

Mr Robb said the changes would ensure Australia could fill the workforce needs of the “next wave of tourism infrastructure’’.

At Crown casino in Melbourne, Mark Holmes, general manger of food and beverage, said Crown gave priority to recruiting locally and had a program to train Australian chefs. “But we still currently have a number of local chef vacancies which have taken much longer than usual to fill,’’ Mr Holmes said.

Call for visas to serve up chefs


STRICT English language requirements for foreign workers are being reviewed as the Immigration Department negotiates a new labour agreement for the hospitality industry

The department is evaluating an industry request to fast-track thousands more foreign chefs and cooks on temporary work visas.

Separately, the department is considering lowering the existing requirement for 457 visa workers to have “functional ­English’’, as part of a government-ordered inquiry into the temporary work scheme.

Restaurant and Catering Australia chief executive John Hart yesterday revealed the hospitality industry wants the agreement to extend 457 visas to cover waiters and bar staff, as well as skilled chefs and managers.

The industry also wants to waive English language requirements and axe the $53,900 minimum salary.

Mr Hart said foreign workers should be paid the same award rates as Australian staff. And he said kitchen staff did not need to speak English.

“The reality is that most of the people coming into the business are cooks and chefs and many of the kitchens, especially in the ethnic cuisine, don’t use English at all,’’ he said. “The language of the kitchen is the language of the cuisine. It is not appropriate to set the bar so high where there’s no requirement for English in the workplace, particularly with cooks and chefs.’’

Mr Hart said the industry needed to recruit 3500 more chefs and cooks because of a shortage of local labour.

Restaurateur Philip Thompson, who owns the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, said he had sponsored two chefs and two managers on 457 visas, and relied heavily on backpackers and foreign students to staff his popular Circular Quay eatery.

Mr Thompson said he paid award wages, but still could not find suitable Australian workers.

Only three of his 40 staff, including the head chef, were Australian. He has hired seven Italian waiters — “they’re fantastic and really understand service’’ — but backpacker visa rules prevented him employing them for more than six months.

“It’s not seen as a profession in Australia — it tends to be a part-time job for people to put themselves through uni — but a lot of the overseas people see it as a profession,’’ Mr Thompson said.

His general manager is Indonesian Dimple Nanikram, who first came to Australia from Bali to study business management.

She said Australian jobseekers did not want to work weekends, even though they were paid time and a half on ­Saturdays and double time on Sundays.

The restaurant’s floor manager is 27-year-old Turkish woman Hasrel Talus, who worked for years in international hotels and restaurants in Istanbul before moving to Australia to study English.

“We have 200 resumes at the moment and there is not one Australian one there — they are all from overseas,’’ she said yesterday.

“I love working here; you can’t complain working every day in front of the Harbour Bridge.’’

Possibility of Cook in SOL …

Skill Shortages – Statistical Summary
The following is a summary of the quantifiable results of the Department of Employment’s skill shortage research. These provide a basis for comparison across locations and occupations and gives an historical  perspective to the 2013 results. It is important, though, to also understand the qualitative information gathered from the research. This is provided in Skill Shortages Australia