New Requirements for Welfare Workers to be Introduced

by Mark Webster 02/03/2009

The skills assessment authority for welfare workers, AIWCW, has indicated that the requirements for assessment will be changed some time in 2010.

Current Requirements
Currently, it is possible to pass skills assessment as a welfare worker without needing to show English language proficiency and there are a number of Australian 2-year diplomas which suffice for skills assessment as a welfare worker. Welfare worker is a 60-point occupation, which gives a significant advantage in applying for skilled migration to Australia.

Studying a diploma in welfare work in Australia has been a relatively attractive way of obtaining 60 points for occupation for some time, and numbers of enrolments in such courses have been steadily climbing the last few years. In 2008, there were some 5,000 international students studying welfare work in the vocational sector, an increase of more than 100% over 2007 numbers.

Higher English Requirement
AIWCW has been requested by Immigration to introduce an English language proficiency test as part of their assessment criteria. AIWCW is currently conducting a study to determine the relevant level of English, and the result of this is expected in June 2009. The changes may be implemented in 30 September 2009, despite earlier indications by AIWCW that there would be no changes before 2010. The likely English requirement is a 7.0 band score in IELTS, and certainly above 6.0.

Reduced Points for Welfare Workers
In addition, the latest press release from AIWCW indicates that from 2010 applicants holding diploma level qualifications will not receive 60 points unless they have 3 years of work experience in welfare work.

Migration regulations currently require applicants claiming 50 points for occupation to have a bachelor degree, so this suggests that applicants without 3 years of work experience may only be awarded 40 points for occupation.

There is a perception that international students study courses which enable them to apply for migration, but in which they otherwise have no real interest. This appears to be another example of Immigration seeking to close down "easy options" for international students to obtain permanent residence.

A series of such measures were introduced in 1 September 2007 in the last major overhaul of the skilled migration system:
- Increasing minimum English language requirements from 5 to 6 for most applicants
- Introducing new policies for assessing the 2 year study requirement
- Requiring work experience to claim MODL points

We do not have the relevant statistics to see whether these measures have been effective, but the Department of Immigration's recent conduct (amongst other things, introducing the CSL) suggest that the measures have been completely ineffective, and that students make up just as high a proportion of the skilled migration program as previously.

We would welcome a thorough and open evaluation of the skilled migration program and a consultative process of redesigning the program. Any review of the skilled migration program also requires a thorough analysis of the relevant criteria for skills assessment as there are some significant issues with a number of skills assessment authorities.

Please contact us if you would like advice on immigration to Australia

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