AUSTRALIA: Skilled Occupation List Review

November 28, 2019

On 26 November 2019, Newland Chase met with two representatives from the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, regarding the upcoming changes to the skilled occupation lists used by Immigration.

This department has the responsibility to advise Immigration on which occupation lists should be changed, though the Immigration Minister has the ultimate decision on these lists.

Thank you to our clients who provided feedback to us in our survey, as we were able to collate their information and present their general feedback as well as discuss the specific points that they raised.

It was explained to us that the Department of Employment now undertakes these stakeholder meetings prior to publishing the “traffic light” report. For this report, the information from the stakeholder meetings is considered along with a number of statistical reports from a variety of sources (such as employment data, job advertisements and enrolments in educational institutions), though they acknowledged that due to the sampling in these statistical reports, the information on the situation in regional areas is not very comprehensive.

The traffic light report is due out in December and provides information on occupations that:

  • may be removed from the skilled occupation lists altogether (red light);
  • may move from one list to a less favourable list (yellow light); and
  • may move from one list to a more favourable list (green light).

The most favourable list is considered to be the MLTSSL with the least favourable being the STSOL, and the ROL is in the middle of these.

Newland Chase explained that, with the introduction of the new regional visas, there are now several ROLs, and the Department advised that they consider the ROL as it is listed on the subclass 482 skilled occupation list.  It is up to Immigration to decide what is included on the other ROLs.  We emphasised that this makes it difficult for employers in regional areas who may have an occupation on the ROL for the subclass 494 visa but on the STSOL for the subclass 482 visa, and this was noted.

Once the traffic light report is published, we have until sometime in February to provide submissions  on any of the proposed changes. At this time we will once again reach out to businesses to see if we can assist you with any submissions they may want to make regarding specific occupations in the report.  The Department explained what they look for in these submissions and this was also useful information.  We were concerned that occupations would be considered for removal simply due to the small size of the occupation group, but the Department said that this was not the case.

We were able to discuss some of the other challenges faced by our clients such as the difficulty in getting skills assessments for employees, particularly in the management occupations and also where a person does not have formal qualifications but many years of industry experience.  While the new subclass 494 Employer Sponsored Regional visa can access a very long occupation list, the requirement for the applicant to have a skills assessment will make it difficult for many people to use this pathway.

We also emphasized how important it was to have consistency in the occupation lists, as constant change (as occurred in April to July 2017) makes it very difficult for employers to plan for staffing needs.  They noted that they have only been involved since 2017 and their aim is to have as such consistency as possible while still taking into account changes in the labour market.

Lastly, we discussed the deficiencies in ANZSCO. The Department commented that they are able to approach the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – which manages the ANZSCO list – and suggest changes.  Recent changes in ANSZCO, such as the inclusion of Blockchain Specialists/Planners and Data Scientists, have been as a result of their submissions to ABS.  We were able to present some occupations that our clients have had difficulties with as they are not well represented in ANZSCO, and the Department said they would welcome more detailed information on these.  We will be providing this to them as soon as possible.

Our Advice

Employers who have further questions or comments on the meeting, please contact Newland Chase.  We will send out more information when the traffic light report is available.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to Australia, please contact us.