Position Paper – March 2023
There is no doubt skilled migration has played and will continue to play a crucial role in meeting the skills needs of the nation particularly as we move towards clean energy transition and electrifying the nation.
Unlike other sectors and occupations, the Australian electrotechnology industry, specifically Electricians and Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning mechanics has a well-established, fit for purpose skilled migration process and pathway for Offshore Technical Skills Record (OTSR) holders. Developed by Energy Skills Australia, Trades Recognition Australia (TRA), industry and regulators dating back to 2006.
Whilst the knowledge and skills of many overseas trained workers can be very high, there are differences in the way technical expertise needs to be applied in Australia. The difference represents the Australian context ‘gap’. Electrical regulators are especially concerned that the ‘gap’ be addressed in regulated trade vocations such as electrical and refrigeration and air-conditioning, where the work context may differ markedly in overseas countries and could endanger lives or have a detrimental impact on electricity infrastructure or systems.
Differences between Australian and overseas occupational practices arise because of the use of different standards, regulations and/or industry codes/guidelines in the worker’s place of origin. For instance, in Australia and New Zealand, there are standards and practices that are not seen or applied in any other country, with other practices seen in a small number of countries.
‘This ‘gap’ which must be met to ensure the operative meets both the qualification and occupational licence requirements.
TRA approved Registered Training Organisations (RTOs), assess the trade skills of people intending to migrate to Australia or already in Australia who hold overseas qualifications wishing to work in Australia on a temporary or permanent basis.
The assessment process is very rigorous and involves a self-assessment, documentary evidence and technical skills assessment against the technical aspects of the units in Certificate III qualification. If successful candidates are issued an OTSR.
Nationally accredited gap training courses to address and cover this gap in skills, knowledge and work performance (application) from overseas trained electrotechnology operatives have been available since 2008 for both electrician and refrigeration and air conditioning occupations.
Except for New Zealand trained electricians and refrigeration operatives, who are covered under Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition (TTMR), this knowledge and skills gap must be met and applied in Australia (through supervision). To achieve this, Electrical and Refrigeration occupational regulators offer restricted/provisional and/or training licences to OTSR holders so that they can legally work in Australia to gain the on-the-job component of the units of competency in the gap training course.
Regulators have determined the on-the-job component should be 12 months nominal duration in Australia.
Gap Training RTOs are restricted to providers who have gone through an Expression of Interest (EOI) process and are licensed by Energy Skills Australia.
The Gap Training process is summaries below:
Industry is observing an alarming and growing number of RTOs offering alternate, largely RPL, options for skilled migrants including OTSR holders.
Ultimately bypassing the quality industry and TRA endorsed and accepted pathway and process.
We acknowledge that RTOs have authority to offer RPL to their clients, however in heavily regulated and high-risk occupations where competency requires both on and off the job components in Australia, it is near impossible for RTOs to legitimately offer RPL to overseas trained workers or workers who have not undertaken an apprenticeship in Australia without recognising illegal work.
There is simply no other way to achieve the on-the-job requirements of the units of competence than working under supervision in Australia.
RTOs who are bypassing the industry and TRA endorsed pathway are potentially misleading candidates and doing so at high cost with no guarantee they will be issued an occupational licence at the end and therefore not able to operate in the industry.
RTOs who offer RPL and/or an alternate pathway to skilled migrants do so at their own risk, should there be an accident or incident the training records will be one of the first things to be interrogated.
Expression of Interest
Energy Skills Australia welcomes RTOs who are interested in delivering the nationally accredited gap training course to complete an EOI. This program is industry approved and TRA endorsed and delivers quality outcomes to the candidate, RTO and industry.
Please visit our website for more information and to find the EOI application: https://energyskillsaustralia.com.au/services/skilled-migration/