Working in Australia



Working in Australia has become an increasingly inviting prospect for many foreigners. There are many reasons why living in Australia can be a wise decision for expatriates. The weather and quality of life aside, the employment rate in the country stands at 72% and offers expats a number of job opportunities. Expatriates will find that major job industries in the country involve mining, transportation equipment, food processing, and the steel industry.

With job losses looming globally, moving to Australia can provide a new beginning to anyone with the skills and energy to make it happen, and can provide job security not found in many other countries. Despite the lower wages, Australia's unemployment is low, as the country holds an employment rate of 72%. The country has weathered the storm far better than other world economic leaders, making Australia a top choice for expats. There is a variety of available working visas that expats can apply for, such as the working holiday visa, sponsored training visas and professional visas that require sponsorship.

"The 457 process was fairly easy as I had more than enough experience to meet the criteria – however, I have seen a lot of people wanting to get a Visa but being declined. It’s very strict in Australia. The PR (permanent residence) process is also a lot of paperwork."- James Delaney, Expat in Melbourne, Australia

With an expat population of 4711490, the Australian government places a high premium on skills but stringent measures on immigration to keep Australian immigration levels under control. Professionals are selected carefully, with skills that keep the economy in good health, population levels low and the quality of life high for its citizens. Major industries which fetch a number of jobs in the country include mining, food processing and the industrial and transportation industries.

Healthcare professionals are also sought after, especially nurses. Other jobs available for expatriates are in the fields of information technology, pharmaceuticals, accounting, education, domestic travel and transportation, as well as marketing. Tourism and export are the two main components of the nation's income.

For more information, the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship website has the latest information about visas and migration applications.

Work Culture

When expats join Australian companies, they feel welcome and find that the local business culture is one that is employee-centered, with everyone across the ranks involved in major company decisions that need to be made.

While Australian employers can be very considerate of their employees' conditions, their attitude towards the business itself can be very direct. Adherence to company policies is a must, including meeting deadlines and producing expected results. When dealing with business partners, they prefer fast-paced and direct negotiations rather than bargaining. If there's anything expected of everyone, it is punctuality. More than business etiquette, being on time is a viewed as a sign of respect for other people's time. Maintaining good eye contact is also associated with honesty and sincerity towards work. While working in Australia, expats are advised to obtain international health insurance or corporate health insurance from their employers to be covered while they work.

"Australia has a health system called Medicare where Brits and other Europeans on WHV are able to claim free health care. Now on the Bridging visa, I too am able to claim this free health care which is very good."- Annabel Symonds, Expat in Australia

In the typical workplace, locals usually put in 37 hours each workweek, although many put in longer working hours, sometimes up to ten or more in overtime per week. People could work even longer in factories and in some of the most in-demand industries today such as health, engineering, and accounting where most positions occupied by expats are highly paid. This serves as another factor that attracts foreigners, especially as the cost of living in Australia is relatively small in terms of purchasing power.  

People who wish to live and work in Australia are at a lucky time as the sunny country and continent is currently actively promoting migration of foreigners, most of whom who are only too happy to respond positively.

Non-Australian Graduates

Graduates from the United Kingdom or the European Union who work for an international company can work at an Australian ‘branch' for a period of time. The leading industries for graduate recruitment continue to be in accountancy and management, with the highest starting salaries in investment banking and the mining industries. The most common banks in the country are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ Bank, Westpac and National Australia Bank.

Mining and agriculture account for the majority of Australia's exports with its major exports are:

  • Minerals
  • Oil
  • Coal
  • Gold
  • Wool
  • Cereals
  • Meat

In recent years, Australia has seen sustained growth in the service sector, particularly tourism, which accounts for 5.7% of total employment.

Working Conditions

Australia's working conditions have been recognised as some of the best in the world. An average working week comprises 37 hours, Mondays to Fridays and overtime rates apply. Expats will need to note that the nature of the occupation and individual employers determine the actual hours of operation.

All permanent employees in Australia are entitled to four weeks paid annual leave per year and ten days paid personal leave (including sick leave and career leave). Local qualifications are generally preferred over international ones. People from the United Kingdom may encounter fewer problems compared with other countries, simply because many Australians have lived or worked in the UK for a while and are familiar with the British system. If you are planning to relocate internationally, prepare to take a less skilled and a lower paying job than you are qualified for; it's important to build up experience while you look for something better.

If you have a background in manufacturing, the chances of finding a suitable job are highest in Melbourne, and to a lesser extent in Adelaide. If you have a finance background, you may want to consider Sydney, while those with skills in resources can set their eyes on Perth. Prepare yourself for setbacks when you decide to relocate and find a job in Australia. Rejection is part of the game; the right attitude can be just as important as your academic qualification in obtaining that elusive job. 



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Expat Services in Australia