SOUTHERN MAN IMMIGRATION BLOG

Recognition of Prior Learning

April 9, 2021
Myer Lipschitz

I’m often asked whether one needs a qualification for the purposes of securing permanent residence in Australia as a skilled migrant and the short answer in typically cryptical fashion is in most cases you do, but sometimes you don’t. This will mainly depend on your occupation and type of visa you are applying for.

If you do need a qualification and don’t have one, the process of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is proving to be a very cost-effective, efficient method of getting formally qualified.

RPL is the process of acquiring a qualification that credits you with the skills and abilities that you’ve built up via prior study, which includes both formal and non—formal learning, along with work experience and volunteering. Through RPL on specific units, you can receive your qualification without having to repeat the same knowledge that you’ve already gained. It makes it shorter and cheaper to obtain the necessary qualification.

The qualification can either be obtained in the applicant’s home country or in Australia through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). The advantage of obtaining an Australian qualification is certainty that it will be recognised in Australia at an appropriate level, whereas obtaining a qualification outside of Australia is often risky and can be expensive and ultimately a waste of time if the qualification isn’t recognised in Australia.

I can’t tell you how many times I have been told by people overseas that they obtained qualifications and were reassured by the academic institution that the qualification is “internationally recognised” only to find out that they aren’t recognised in Australia.

One either needs a qualification for the purposes of obtaining a positive skills assessment or for claiming points towards your visa application and you first need to ascertain the requirements of the type of visa you are applying for.

A typical scenario where a RPL might be applicable would be perhaps someone who leaves school and doesn’t have the financial backing to complete a trade certificate. That person might complete an informal apprenticeship or might be employed in a family business and often learns their skills through on-the-job training. They may progress in their careers or perhaps establish businesses of their own without the need for any qualifications, but when they consider immigrating to Australia as a skilled migrant where a qualification would be required the RPL is definitely the cheapest and most cost-effective form of obtaining this.

When applying for short term work visas (temporary skill shortages visas) most occupations (apart from certain trades) don’t need a skills assessment as part of the application process, but a work visa is just a short term visa to enable you to satisfy a skills shortage in Australia. It doesn’t in itself grant you permanent residence. Only a permanent resident visa grants you the right to live in Australia indefinitely and ultimately become an Australian citizen. This is the chief objective of most applicants.

For the permanent residence visa options, a qualification is important for a number of reasons. The general skilled migration visas work on a points system with points being awarded for qualifications and some applicants need the points for a qualification in order to meet the pass mark for that particular visa. Trade qualifications and diplomas are typically worth 10 points whereas bachelor degrees are worth 15 points.

Other types of visas may require you to have a qualification in order to obtain a positive skills assessment which might be a compulsory criterion that needs to be satisfied for that visa. General skilled migration visas require a positive skills assessment, so too do employer sponsored regional (provisional) visas.

Not all occupations however require qualifications to obtain a positive skills assessments. Notable exceptions could be IT occupations, senior management occupations and certain trades.

We have a wide range of people considering migrating to Australia, many of whom are well established in their careers, notwithstanding a lack of qualifications. They also might have young children and don’t have the time nor inclination to attend a full-time academic institution for the purposes of obtaining a qualification purely to satisfy immigration requirements.

This is where RPL comes into play, where your previous skills, experience or qualifications can shorten the time it takes to undergo a course and allow you to become eligible for qualifications you may not otherwise be able to do.

Under the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) which regulates education in Australia, all students are entitled to have their previous skills, experience and training recognised to enhance their progression into and between qualifications.

Every Registered Training Organisation (RTO) has different policies and procedures for assessing your eligibility for RPL, but the basis of the procedure stays the same. The experience and skills that you’ve gained throughout your work or school life can fast track you towards completing a qualification earlier, and lessen the time burden of having to undergo a course to get you closer to obtaining the qualification.

Lack of qualifications might not necessarily impact upon your employability in Australia but that’s a separate matter from satisfying immigration requirements so please don’t make the mistake of thinking that immigration requirements are a true reflection of the needs of employers, many of whom won’t care if you don’t have any qualifications.

We are not an education provider i.e. we don’t provide qualifications but will advise you whether you need a particular qualification to migrate to Australia as a skilled migrant and will give you a thorough explanation of the requirements of the most appropriate visas in your particular case and can make suggestions regarding the types of qualifications available in Australia that would be appropriate in your particular case.

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