Living & Working in Australia
In addition to a fun working environment and great pay, Aussie tradesman get to work outside in the sunshine, wear shorts and singlets, take ‘smokos’, handle dangerous power tools and knock off around 3pm to head to the beach. Not bad at all!
Australia’s construction industry (which includes carpenters and joiners, electricians, plumbers, builders, painters and decorators, concreters and bricklayers) employs over 845,000 people – and even more are needed.
With a labour shortage of skilled tradespeople, this a highly accessible industry for working holiday makers. The flexible and often short-term nature of the work is ideal and many trades are listed on the Australian Government’s Occupations in Demand list, making skilled migration or employer-sponsored migration very possible.
Work is available everywhere, in both metropolitan and regional areas. Around 40% of construction jobs are outside state capital cities, with the majority of work being in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The facts speak for themselves. According to official figures, Australia has consistently been the top destination of choice for British long-term migrants (i.e. people leaving the UK for longer than one year) for more than two decades, with an average of more than 30,000 heading down under every year. World Bank figures say there were over 1.2 million UK-born citizens resident in Australia as of 2011.
So what’s the allure that attracts so many?
- 457 Business Visa
- Employer Nomination Scheme
- Working Holiday Visas
- Migration Agents
- Opportunities in Australia
- Working with Australians
- Money and costs
- Australian Life
So What’s the Allure That Attracts So Many?
You’d think we might be put off by the Pommie-bashing that appears to be Australia’s national pastime, but we aren’t. That’s probably because the constant ribbing and the fierce rivalry on the sports field is usually done in good spirit, and though many Aussies may be loathe to admit it we actually have plenty in common, not least of which is a shared sense of humour. Plus there’s a not entirely unfounded perception that the weather, and life in general, is simply better down there.
All things considered the Aussies seem to have it sussed. So what does it take to join them?
There are literally dozens of visa categories that allow people to work in Australia – detailed breakdown. But they fall into several basic categories, depending on whether you are looking for permanent or temporary status, or whether you are arriving on an employee nominated/sponsored scheme.
Receiving Permanent Residency status can be a lengthy process with applications taking up to 18 months. Your ability to qualify will be judged on your qualifications, age, English language ability, relevant work experience, etc.
The immigration process we will be your responsibility we provide you with all the skills qualifications a sponsor job and all the paperwork you need and the Australian qualification you will apply online and pay the appropriate fees direct to the Australian government our fees are separate to this. Don’t worry we will be on hand to help guide you through the process.
All the information can be found on the official Australian government website at https://www.border.gov.au
We are not an immigration service claiming to do things, we don’t charge extortionate fees, we offer a great service a fair cost and are here to make your dreams come true.
457 Business Visa
The 457 Business Visa is how most working Brits arrive. The 457 visa is for skilled workers from outside Australia who have been sponsored and nominated by an employer to work in Australia. They are only valid for up to an initial four years, but can be renewed.
Employers usually make the applications on your behalf. Although this restricts you to working for that company, you can apply again through another company if needed. Again you must meet basic experience and qualifications criteria, but applications are relatively straightforward.
The Skilled-Independent visa (subclass 189) is a permanent residence visa for points-tested skilled workers who want to work and live in Australia
Employer Nomination Scheme
This visa is a permanent residence visa for skilled workers. It allows you to work in Australia under one of three streams:
- the Temporary Residence Transition stream
- the Direct Entry stream
- the Agreement stream.
You might be able to get this visa if you:
- have been nominated by an approved Australian employer
- are younger than 50 years of age, unless you are exempt
- meet the skills, qualifications and English language requirements, unless you are exempt
- apply under the stream for which you were nominated.
Working Holiday Visas
At the simpler end of the scale are Working Holiday Visas. The catch is you need to be under 31 to apply. Plus they are limited to one year, and only allow work for any one company for a maximum of six months. However they can be applied for online via the Australian embassy in the UK and are often issued within 48 hours.
If all this seems confusing there is help out there. Using a migration agent can be an option if making a personal application. They can navigate you through the minefield of the points system and advise on other pitfalls and guides applicants through the often confusing and daunting application process.
Other recruitment companies are also there to help out.
For those still thinking of applying personally, or who simply want to prepare for what to expect, the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs website www.immi.gov.au offers a wealth of advice.
Opportunities in Australia
The biggest question for those considering moving to Australia must be: what are the job prospects like? To find out we asked potential recruiters about current openings.
“We’re focusing on opportunities for British expats in the booming construction markets,”
Working with Australians
Is working in Australia really any different to working at home? After all, half the businesses in London seem to be staffed by Australians these days.
“Many construction and maintenance positions are in remote areas, which can mean spending weeks at a time away from family. It’s important that people are aware of what they’re coming out to – it can be a shock for a wife to find she’s got the kids settled somewhere, then the husband/partner is away from home 70% of the time. But by and large the Poms compare well with the Australian workforce.”
“The working environment is not dissimilar to the UK,” says Simon Winfield. “Perth is a cosmopolitan city and its inhabitants are from a wide cross-section of nationalities.”
“People tend to work shorter hours,” adds another British expat, Tim Ayling. “But conversely they do more in the time they work. Friday afternoons are dead here, and Australia seems to close down from December 20 to late January. The fact that Sydney is usually warm and bright affects people’s attitudes.”
Jason Thackeray spent a year living and working in Sydney. “I’m a senior business analyst for a software company and my moves are always short term,” he explains. “I found the working atmosphere more relaxed. There were lots of practical jokes in our office – and a tendency to get to the pub early on Fridays!”
Originally from Lancashire, Rachael Shanahan has worked for the Northern Territory Government in Darwin since the late 1980s. “The working environment is far less structured and formal,” she says. “The Under-Treasurer once advised a new starter that if he wore a tie on his second day it would be cut off below the knot. The only people who wear jackets here are lawyers from the south.”
Money and Costs
Whereas some areas of Australian life are cheaper than the UK, such as eating out in restaurants, other items such as groceries and rent are around 10% higher. Nevertheless, overall purchasing power is fairly comparable.
One small problem is people’s salary expectations. While there are some good packages on offer, wages are generally realistic and are never going to be as attractive as somewhere like the Middle East. Expats need to understand it is not a tax-free haven. Life can be great, but the tax is pretty high. Many people expect to live and work without contributing to the country. This can be a problem, so it’s best to view Australia as a lifestyle change and a great place to live as opposed to somewhere to make a quick buck.”
One former expat potential perk was that the 457 Business Visa could, at the employer’s discretion, provide a LAFHA (Living Away From Home Allowance) as an incentive to attract foreign skills. However, national budget reforms in 2012 mean this is no longer available.
The best way to find out about living in Australia is to hear from those who’ve done it.
“I was tired of the English way of life,” says Tim “Bad weather, traffic, ‘Chav’ culture. On the whole the Australian lifestyle is far better. People live outside more, and there’s more interaction with other people. Of course Australia isn’t perfect, but I feel safer in Sydney than anywhere in the UK.”
“I’d worked in expat recruitment for three years when I was offered a job in Sydney,” says John. “I’d been sending engineers all over the world, but had never worked outside Manchester. I had no idea what to expect.
To my surprise it was like a beautiful English summer’s day when I landed in Sydney. The climate is fantastic. In winter it can become cool and we do get stormy weather, but mostly the skies are clear and the sun is shining. Of the expats I meet it’s usually work that brings them over, but the reason they stay is the amazing lifestyle.”
Trevor sees Australia as a land of opportunity. “It’s a country where a person gets a fair go,” he points out, “and true Australians are very helpful, polite and friendly. Australia has a mix of all nationalities and anyone prepared to have a go usually ends up doing well.”
“We spent most weekends either at the beach or visiting the mountains or vineyards,” says Jason Thackeray. “But day-to-day Sydney was quite manic and more expensive than I expected: not that different to London.”
Melbourne also has its fans. “Australians are laid back and friendly,” says Dan Marks. “Good curries are easier to find in London, but maybe I haven’t been to the right places yet. Generally Melbourne is fantastic for restaurants.”
It’s not just the larger cities that attract expats. “I only planned to stay in Darwin a month,” says Rachael Shanahan. “I arrived as a backpacker, broke and needing to earn money before going to Ayers Rock. But it’s a wonderful place – tropical, safe, pollution-free and with many career opportunities. The food is exceptional and the kids can do a different sport every day of the week, all within a short drive.”
“There are some differences, some similarities,” observes Chris Vine. “They seem to enjoy a better standard of living here, although that’s being eroded by the government. I see Australia as a nation still struggling for an identity, even though it has one. As soon as they get over this we’ll be living in the relaxed happy place I always thought Australia was.”
Is there any down side? “Probably the worst thing was attempting to make friends,” says Jason Thackeray. “I had my work colleagues, but my wife was at home most days and didn’t know a soul at first. I’ve worked in Japan and Taiwan where there are huge expat clubs and societies, but we found it harder moving to a place where everyone speaks English because they assume you’re a local. But despite this we loved it. I’d recommend it to anyone.”
And finally, what about all those scary wild animals the tourist brochures would have you believe Australia is full of? “Since I moved here,’ says Tim , “I haven’t seen a dangerous spider, snake, shark, crocodile or anything. We think Australia has killers around every corner – don’t believe it for a second!”