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Mutual recognition of occupational licences

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision

At its meeting of 10 February 2006 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to new measures to enable people with trade qualifications to move more freely around Australia, without undergoing additional testing and registration processes.  COAG requested the implementation of full and effective mutual recognition of occupational licences for six priority occupations (electricians, plumbers, carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics, and motor mechanics) by 30 June 2007, and for all other vocationally trained occupations by 31 December 2008.

Achieving full and effective mutual recognition

Under existing mutual recognition arrangements, a person registered in one state or territory is entitled to registration in another jurisdiction where the registered occupation is substantially the same. More information on how mutual recognition works can be found on the COAG website at http://www.coag.gov.au/mutual_recognition.

As a result of the COAG decision, all jurisdictions agreed to improved arrangements that would enhance labour mobility across the country.  The Mutual Recognition Act 1992 (section 32) enables ministers from two or more states or territories to jointly declare that specified occupations are equivalent, and also to declare any conditions necessary to achieve equivalence. Jurisdictions have worked together to agree on equivalent occupational licences across Australia, so that joint declarations by ministers could be made.

Implementing the new arrangements

Ministerial declarations made in February 2007, August 2007, and June 2008 reflect the joint agreement of states and territories on what licences will be recognised in each jurisdiction for a number of occupations:

  • -auto-gas installers
  • -carpenters and joiners, bricklayers, and builders
  • -electrical contractors
  • -electrical fitters, lineworkers, and cable jointers
  • -electricians
  • -motor vehicle repairers
  • -plumbers and gas-fitters
  • -refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics
  • -restricted electrical licence holders

By December 2008, the new arrangements will be extended to cover other vocationally-trained occupations. It should be noted that not all occupations are regulated in all jurisdictions.

The mutual recognition of licences not included in the first and in future declarations, including licences held by New Zealand applicants, will continue to be a matter for decision by the relevant registration authority. There is no change to current practice in relation to such licences.

Advantages of the new arrangements

The new arrangements provide certainty for workers considering moving between jurisdictions. Information on equivalent licences is publicly available on this website, which is cross-linked with the websites of state and territory registering authorities. People considering working in another jurisdiction will be able to find out the licence for which they are eligible, before they make a decision to move. Previously, applicants could not easily access this information until after they had applied for registration in another state, and the registering authority had assessed their application.

Registering authorities also benefit from the new arrangements. Previously, applications for mutual recognition were determined on a case-by-case basis. Under the improved arrangements equivalent licences are set out clearly. The tables of equivalent licences on which this website is based have been developed in close consultation with all relevant registration authorities. The website and the equivalency tables will be an easily accessible and definitive guide for regulators when assessing mutual recognition applications.

National employers with mobile workforces will also benefit from the transparency provided by the new arrangements and the greater ease with which registration authorities will be able to assess mutual recognition applications.

Decisions made by registration authorities

In some instances, registration authorities will still need to make decisions on the equivalence of occupational licences in the same way they that they had before a ministerial declaration was in place. Where, for various reasons, an equivalent licence has not been identified in the ministerial declaration, the statement ‘No equivalent declared’ is indicated. In these cases, a decision on licence recognition will be made by the relevant registration authority in accordance with the other provisions of the Mutual Recognition Act 1992.

If a registration authority makes a decision to refuse an application for mutual recognition of a licence, the applicant may seek a review of that decision by applying to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Contact details for the Tribunal and information about the review process are available on its website at http://www.aat.gov.au/ .

Update and review process

COAG has established protocols to ensure that declarations remain current and to ensure that any future amendment or development of occupational regulation seeks to maximise national consistency. Ministerial declarations will be kept up to date through an annual update process to be managed cooperatively by the states, territories and the Commonwealth. The new arrangements will be evaluated as part of the regular review process for the mutual recognition scheme.

Recognition of overseas qualifications

Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) is a skills assessment service which specialises in assessments in the trade occupations for the purpose of migration.

The Offshore Skills Assessment Program is for skilled applicants seeking permanent migration who are from nominated countries applying in nominated occupations.

The nominated countries are:

  • China
  • Fiji
  • India
  • Iran
  • Ireland
  • South Korea
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates

The nominated occupations include:

  • general electrician

  • general plumber

  • air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic

  • aircraft maintenance engineer

Overseas workers seeking a skills assessment in a licenced trade will be required to be assessed by a TRA approved Registered Training Organisation and, if successful, be issued with an Offshore Technical Skills Record (OTSR). An OTSR allows the workers to apply for a provisional licence immediately upon arrival in Australia. The provisional licence then enables the  overseas workers to work under supervision in their trade while they complete gap training and work towards obtaining a full qualification

Further information is available at http://www.deewr.gov.au/skills/programs/skillsassess/TRA.

Regulator confidence in national training system outcomes

COAG agreed to address regulator confidence in vocational training system outcomes so that regulators will recognise vocational education and training qualifications as meeting all skill related requirements for an occupational licence. This is being achieved through regulator engagement with:

·        COAG agreed to the development of national training packages by the relevant industry skills council; and

·        Development of regulator engagement with the Australian Quality Training Framework (AQTF), a separate, but linked, COAG process. Additional information on AQTF is available at www.training.com.au/aqtf2007.



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