Getting your TRA skills assessment as a fresh international student graduate

We’ve written briefly about getting a suitable skills assessment through the Job Ready Programme (JRP) with Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) in our article Graduate Visa with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. Now we’re back again to talk about it in more detail.

The Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485) programme was created to help international students stay on in Australia to acquire the work experience required for a General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa (Subclass 189/190/489) or gain sponsorship from an Australian employer.

There are two streams under the graduate 485 visa – ‘post study work’ and ‘graduate work’ stream. Don’t know which stream you fall under? Read our article Temporary Graduate Visa Streams. If you fall under the graduate work stream, you will require a skills assessment for your application. Gaining a suitable skills assessment requires work experience. But as a fresh graduate, how would you gain a suitable skills assessment?

If your assessing body is TRA, TRA offers a Job Ready Programme, a 4 stage skills assessment designed for international graduates. Stage 1 of the programme provides the applicant with a provisional skills assessment which is sufficient for the application of the graduate 485 visa. By Stage 4, you would receive a full skills assessment which would allow you to apply for a GSM visa, and is required for certain employer sponsored visas.

You can check your occupation’s assessing body on the Skilled Occupation List (SOL)

Stage 1: Provisional Skills Assessment
Stage 2: Job Ready Employment
Stage 3: Job Ready Workplace Assessment
Stage 4: Job Ready Final Assessment

Why so complicated? Skilled migration programmes are built to create supply for skills in demand in the job market. This is to protect both local labour and foreign labour, so neither is subject to unjust employment conditions or face unemployment do to an oversupply. Skills assessments are a means of testing if the applicant is appropriately skilled for the jobs in demand and if they are skilled at the right level.


Stage 1: Provisional Skills Assessment (PSA)

To apply for a PSA, you must have:

  • Held an international student visa to study in Australia
  • A qualification in an occupation assessed by TRA awarded under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) as a result of study in Australia by a registered training organisation (RTO) who is registered with the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) to deliver the course
  • Evidence of a minimum of 360 hours of employment and/or vocational placement completed in an Australian workplace, using industry-standard equipment and processes relevant to your qualification and nominated occupation, within the 3 years prior to applying online.

You cannot begin this stage before you have completed your studies. The documents required include certified copies of your qualification, academic transcript and statement of completion of study that includes both commencement and completion dates.

Evidencing your 360 hours includes providing work statements from your employer and/or registered training organisations, payslips, bank statements, time slips and so forth. TRA’s guidelines are available here.

The application fee for your PSA is $300. The processing time for a PSA is around 30 working days so keep in mind all your deadlines! TRA will only process decision ready applications. Also, if your application is not successful and you apply for a review, that will set you back another $300.


Stage 2: Job Ready Employment (JRE)

To apply for your JRE, you must have:

  • A successful PSA outcome
  • Lodged an application for your 485 visa or hold a suitable visa that will continue to be valid for a period that is sufficient to complete your JRP
  • Secured employment in your nominated occupation (or one that is closely related) that meets JRE eligibility requirements
  • Have less than 4 months remaining on your student visa

This stage is where you gain the necessary work experience that will lead towards your gaining a full suitable skills assessment. It is required that you complete 1725 hours of paid employment in an yournominated occupation (or closely related) over at least 12 months from the start of your JRE in an Australian workplace approved by TRA. Your JRE start date is your date of application.

On a complete JRE application, a TRA liaison officer will be assigned to you. Your TRA officer will make regular contact throughout the rest of your Job Ready Programme.

TRA does not provide any employment opportunities; you will need to find an employer independently. Your employer will need to register with TRA.

In your year’s employment, you will need to keep a Job Ready Journal. You will need to make a monthly online journal entries describing the your role and responsibilities and skills that you are learning and/or applying that are relevant to your nominated occupation. Hold on to all evidence that you are working for your employer. This is no different from the type of evidence you would have provided for Stage 1 – payslips, bank statements, etc. Again, refer to TRA’s official guidelines on Job Ready Journals and evidence.

You can have different employers in your 12 month period as long as they are all registered with the TRA and the time spent with each employer meets at least 50% (863 hours). It is possible to apply for up to 3 months of prior work experience if:

  • You have been in paid employment
  • Your employer is your first registered employer, and is within 3 months of your application for the JRE
  • This employment was not used in your application for your PSA
  • Occurred after your qualification completion date

Child care centre managers have additional conditions applied. You can read more about these here.

The application fee is $500.


Stage 3: Job Ready Workplace Assessment (JRWA)

You’re nearly there! The JWRA involves an arranged visit from a workplace assessor to evaluate if you are operating at the required skill level for your nominated occupation. This stage will occur after you reach halfway point, that is, when you have:

  • Sufficient evidence that you have been engaged in paid employment for at least 863 hours over 6 months (this documentation is what you would have been collecting through your JRE)
  • Produced Job Ready Journals spanning a minimum of 6 months that have been signed off by your employer and approved by TRA

When you have met the above eligibility criteria, you will need to submit an online application with all the relevant documentation. A TRA officer will verify your documents and contact you to confirm that you can submit your application for your workplace assessment.

An independent assessor will then be assigned to your case. TRA will provide the assessor with relevant information as well as your Job Ready Journals. The assessor will contact you to negotiate a time and explain how the assessment will proceed. During the assessment, you will be noted on your skills relevant to your nominated occupation as well as workplace, problem solving and communicative skills.

You will be notified by TRA if your are deemed ‘Job Ready’ or ‘Not Job Ready’. In the event that you receive the latter assessment, you have the choice to request for a review or to take a second assessment.

The JWRA costs $2000. A second JWRA will still come in at $2000. There is no fee for a review.


Stage 4: Job Ready Final Assessment

The final stage! Although the JWPA can happen before you complete stage 2, you are still required to continue collecting employment evidence and create your monthly Job Ready Journals until you have finished 1725 hours over a minimum of 12 months. All the first three stages must have been carried through to completion before you can apply for your full skills assessment.

There is a processing fee of $150 for this last step with a turnaround time of about 30 business days. As with the JWPA, an unsuccessful outcome can be reviewed at no fee or a second application can be made at the same rate of $150.

The Job Ready Programme can be a tedious process. Providing appropriate evidence can be confusing and with the total cost of the programme coming up to nearly $3,000, you would not want to be having to make secondary applications. Reviews may come in at no fee but if the problem sits with the documents provided, a review will not help very much.

Speak to an experienced migration agent if you are unsure! We get that the 360 hours requirement for the first stage can be tricky. A migration agent will also be able to guide you on if your workplace evidence is sufficient. Understand that they cannot however, help you with Job Ready Journals or searching for employment, so you will have to carefully read the TRA guidelines which are thankfully, quite detailed.