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Australia job market overview

Australia is known as one of the planet’s top employment destinations. The country’s booming resource development sectors, high salaries, effective legislation, and attractive governmental nomination programs work as a magnet for talents from all over the world. However, finding a perfect job can take lots of time because of the high competition and geographic peculiarities of a job market. Looking for your first job in Australia? Or you need to look around to find a better job? We are here to help you to discover where the job is, understand a local working culture, and find the best application for your skills.

The country’s job market is constantly developing showing a slow though tangible growth: the total number of job advertisements in November 2015 was 12% (12.9% for online ads) bigger than a year before. Australia’s economy is service-oriented, and as this sector is quite labour-intensive, the country’s job market remains very brisk. A support of the Australian dollar, vivid property market, and low-interest rates is tangible in sectors that could experience a slowdown due to a decrease in resource investment and weak commodity prices.

Australia’s unemployment rate is 6.2%. With the total population of almost 24 million people, over 700,000 of people older than 15 years stay unemployed. Competition for graduates is 39 job-hunters for a position. According to the data of ABS, there are over 11 million of employed Australians (54.1% male and 45.9% female) earning approximately 1,150 AUD weekly (for full-time jobs). Employed Aussies enjoy 20-day annual leaves which may seem outrageously short to some foreigners.

The local manpower is intelligent (40% have tertiary degrees), and, therefore, to compete with the locals, a foreigner must have outstanding qualifications and valuable skills. As Australia is a multicultural country and the fourth part of its population was born abroad, broadmindedness and speaking at least one European or Asian (other than English) language are common features of the local manpower.

Predictably for the services-oriented country, many employed Australians work as sales assistants (over 520 thousand). Then go smaller groups of general clerks, registered nurses, and retail managers. An employment growth is the strongest in such occupations as Professionals, Personal Service and Community Workers, technicians, and trades workers.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development estimated the percentage of labour force that stayed without a job for more than a year as 1% (compare with the OECD’s average of 2.8%). Average annual salaries of the Australians are much higher (50.1k USD a year) than the OECD’s average (36k USD). Nevertheless, the organization lays emphasis on the huge difference between how much top 20% of employees and bottom 20% earn: 64k USD and 28k USD respectively.

Job-hunting for Foreigners

Even before making any serious life-changing steps, you are able to discover Australia’s employment opportunities, get the taste of the competition and try your wings using the governmental portal called MyFuture. For the search, you can also use specialised online services such as SEEK, CareerOne, or

A tip: some occupations can be called in a different way in Australia, so to avoid confusion, you should find out how the position you are interested in is called down under before starting the job search. Do not ignore the selection criteria mentioned in the job ad and try to do your best to address them competently.

If you are an English-speaking professional with a set of competitive skills and expertise in your niche, you have a high chance to get employed in Australia as long as the state or a territory you will be nominated by has a strong need for your skills. The Australian Department of Employment explores the marker regularly detecting any skills shortage on the market. From their reports, we find out that Australia lacks specialists in healthcareeducation, and training, surveyors, sonographers, audiologists, physiotherapists for aged and disabled people, automotive electricians, motor mechanics, construction single-functioned workers, bakers, arborists, plumbers, and even hairdressers.

Of course, the farther from big cities the location is, the bigger the shortage will be. On the Department’s website, you can find detailed information concerning every territory or state: the set of skills it lacks and the reason for such shortage. For example, Queensland desperately needs Child Care Centre Managers who would be ready either to relocate to the regional Australia or to have long commutes to the workplace. The issue of relocation caused a deficit in such specialists as registered nurses, midwives (for rural hospitals), pharmacists, welders, diesel mechanics, and so on. The Northern Australia lacks education and health professionals, as well as Engineering Trades Workers and retail, hospitality and service managers.

If you are interested in living and working in a specific state or a territory, you should search for nominations available in this area. Territory governments keep their nominations updated on their websites.

What are Australia’s prestigious and well-paid sectors? They are engineering, construction, gas and oil production, mining, renewable energy, and infrastructure. There is a huge shortage of manpower in areas specialised in these industries – Queensland and Western Australia. The reason for such shortage is often in a necessity to work in remote areas which can be difficult for locals. But for foreign professionals, who arrive in Australia mostly without families, it can be a perfect employment opportunity. It is important to know the exact requirements for the occupation you are interested in. For example, a Mining Engineer is expected to hold a Bachelor degree and higher level qualification in the relevant niche.

Application Procedure

To get the job, a foreigner needs to submit their “Expression of Interest” via the national skill system called SkillSelect. It is based on the “skills in demand” which restrict foreigners within the existing skill shortage, but at the same time give them a huge advantage against the locals. If your proposition of skills comes home, you will be sent an invitation to apply for a suitable visa (either a temporary or a permanent).

A tip: before registering with the SkillSelect system, we recommend you to research your niche and find out whether your occupation needs getting licensed or registered by the relevant authority or not. Going through this procedure and getting necessary certificates can take some time, so ensure you can meet the application deadlines (60 days). Failing to get the necessary certificates can make you ineligible for the position you apply for.

In the choice of visa, other circumstances are taken into consideration such as, for example, a sponsorship of a certain employer or a relative. If you have already found a company that is willing to hire you, its sponsorship simplifies getting the work visa (without registering the “Interest” using SkillSelect) and the permanent residence.

In order to prove their qualifications, foreigners need to pass lots of tests such as the English test (IELTS) and the skill assessment at the authority responsible for the occupation (for example, it is Engineers Australia for a Mining Engineer).

Australian Working Culture

The Australians are a hard-working nation, but they also respect their rest: they would rather work harder but during shorter hours. Colleagues usually spend lots of time together after work, and this not necessary happens only on Friday evening. Weekends usually start on Friday afternoons, and long holidays usually turn into dead seasons (winter holidays last almost a month starting from the Christmas Eve). Such relaxed attitude to work may surprise immigrants from countries where a strict working ethics is practised.

Australian English heard on work is rich in profanity. On some territories, Australian managers beg to swear even in official business meetings which can sound overwhelming for their American colleagues. In this country, you can hear lots of racist abusive words the Australians say about themselves and their own families in a playful tone without any abusive meaning: this nation really takes proud in its melting-pot heritage. You, of course, cannot use the same words to address them.

Life seems more laid-back here. The Aussies are very friendly, and it’s pretty normal to approach everybody on your workplace for a chat. Having a relationship with a colleague is absolutely normal as long as you stay professional during working hours. You shouldn’t be late for meetings (it is inadmissible) but coming too early isn’t recommended as well. Australian lunch meetings are more relaxed, and it’s normal to start them with a casual conversation.

It is amazing how the Australians can combine hard-working with a no-fuss approach to settling matters. The Aussies usually don’t complain that they are overloaded with work; saying that you have much work would mean here that you cannot cope with it. So if you want to prove yourself to be a good worker, be always ready to take on more work.

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