491/190 visas: WA adds VET course to Graduate Occupation List, job offer and employment experience reduced

The Western Australia government announced last week that vocational education graduates can be nominated for a Subclass 190 – Skilled - Nominated visa or a Subclass 491 – Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa when it commences on 16 November 2019. Another major change is that the work experience and job offer requirements will also be reduced, down from 12 months of work experience and a job offer for at least 12 months to either demonstrating at least 6 months of work experience or a 6-month employment contract. A new Graduate Occupation List will be published prior to their December invitiation round.

WA has had a difficult time with their student visa enrolments over the years. According to a local media article at the beginning of the year, WA’s share of the lucrative international student market dropped from 25 per cent a decade ago to just 5 per cent currently.

It is no surprise, particularly with the current government, who appeared to have shunned migrants when they requested that Perth be removed as a regional area for Subclass 187 – Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme visas, which the federal government duly obliged.

The WA government furthermore unveiled their strategy to “attract the best global talent” by having some of the most restrictive requirements to be nominated for a General Skilled Migration visas in comparison to other Australian states, especially for local graduates. It did not take a genius to figure out that this would only exacerbate the decline of international student enrolments.

In response, the new relaxed requirements may go some way to resuscitate its flagging overseas student numbers. Vocational graduates will have to complete at least a Certificate III or above except for trade occupations unless approved for delivery to international students. Also, the two-year study requirement will count English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) courses as well as VET and higher education courses.

It seems that the WA government has realised the value the international student market is to the local economy. After all, outside of iron ores and concentrates and coal, which no doubt WA does some heavy lifting, education-related services is Australia’s third-biggest export.