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Big news from the TRA for tradespeople in the UK

by Lauren 27/06/2008 12:24:00

There's been yet more movement in the ongoing drama of Skilled Pathway D that Andy wrote about earlier in the week.  Today, Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) announced that the entire skills assessment process for trades will change on September 1 by releasing a new draft policy.

This will certainly keep my team busy, and we couldn't be happier about it!  Here's why.

When Pathway D was closed last year, a lot of highly qualified tradespeople were left high and dry - or with the option of going through an extremely complex, finicky and time consuming process to get their skills assessment through.  (In a few cases, we've had to organise flights to Australia so that some of our clients could have their skills assessed on-shore.)

The new skills assessment process is set to throw out all the complexity and make the process fairer for everyone involved.  Instead, skilled tradespeople with 4 years of work experience will be able to have their skills assessed in the workplace by an organisation registered to assess trades.

At the moment, only Australian organisations are registered to provide assessment services. While that doesn't sound helpful, here's where it gets interesting and the news gets fantastic for skilled tradespeople in the UK.

Australian assessing bodies are able to travel to, or even set up in, other countries so that they can run skills assessments for tradespeople.  The demand for UK workers is so great that we fully expect Australian assessing organisations to start flying to the UK in droves.  However, we expect the news to get even better.

It's just not practical to expect an Australian organisation to assess every trade that's available and in demand.  What about niche trades like drainers, pastry cooks and lift mechanics?  (They're all on the MODL.)  It's not logistically possible for an Australian organisation to send over assessors for niche or highly specialised trades.

Fortunately, the language of the draft policy form the TRA leaves the door open for them to accept foreign assessing bodies as equivalent to Australia. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the first thing the TRA recognizes is on-site qualifications obtained in the UK resulting in a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) assessor, or a city and Guilds certificate.  That sounds a little technical.  Essentially, it means that we expect the Australian TRA to recognise on-site skills assessments done in the UK, by UK organisations, for UK tradespeople.

Recognising local UK on-site trades assessors would allow Australia to  take advantage of the tremendous pool of qualified talent in the UK, without having to send over Australian assessors for every niche trade that's in demand.

To add icing on the cake, the new changes should make it possible for tradespeople to qualify with just 4 years of work experience rather than 5 as it was under the old skills pathway system.  That means younger people will be able to make the move down under.

When these changes start coming into place in September, they will open the door to Australia for thousands of skilled tradespeople in the UK.  We can't wait!

- Lauren Mennie is a Casework Department Manager for the Australian Visa Bureau.

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