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SKILLED OCCUPATIONS LIST: What is actually involved in determining whether an occupation remains on the list?

There is no doubt that the removal and addition of occupations to the List is somewhat of a mystery.  Unfortunately, the short answer is that there is no way to predict whether a particular occupation will remain on the List for the following financial year.  However, it is important to understand how decision is made to keep or to remove a particular occupation.  The understanding of the review process is now more important than before given the Government’s recent overhaul of the Temporary Visa Framework.

The Consolidated Skilled Occupations List (SCOL)

This List has been significantly condensed from 651 to 435 occupations, with 216 occupations removed. The Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) has been renamed to the new Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL) and will be updated every six months based on advice from the Department of Employment.

Department of Employment – Who, what, why?

According to their website, the Department of Employment is responsible for national policies and programmes that help Australians find and keep employment and work in safe, fair and productive workplaces. They are also responsible for conducting the skill shortage research is the Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA).  The SERA to collect two kinds of information about employers’ experiences recruiting skilled workers. The skill shortage research is undertaken for selected occupations defined in the Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO).  The primary focus remains on relatively large occupations (usually those with national employment of at least 1500 as at the 2011 Census) which are skilled (that is, they generally require at least three years of post-school education and training). Most are professions (ANZSCO Major Group 2) and technicians and trades (ANZSCO Major Group 3), although a small number of other occupations are also included.

Sample Questions:

  • How many vacancies for this occupation were you hoping to fill from this advertisement?
  • How many of these vacancies have you filled?
  • How many applicants did you attract?
  • How many applicants had formal, relevant qualifications?
  • How many applicants were suitable?
  • Did you fill the vacancy within four weeks (or six weeks for professionals/managers) from the most recent advertisement?
  • If the vacancy was not filled within four/six weeks of the most recent advertisement, what was the reason for the delay?
  • What are the main activities of the advertised vacancy? What qualifications, skills and experience are needed, including specialist requirements?
  • What were the main reasons applicants were considered to be unsuitable?
  • How many qualified applicants were unsuitable?
  • Were there any particular factors which made the position difficult to fill (for example, location, lack of public transport)?
  • Are there any factors currently affecting demand for this occupation?
  • Have changes to training arrangements or other supply issues such as licensing affected this occupation?
  • How would you rate turnover in this occupation? Why? 

The answers to these questions by employers as well as general market research is what determines the factors pertaining to which occupations remain on the STSOL. Consultation with key associations is also undertaken to discuss the findings of the research, the labour market more generally and factors impacting on skill needs. 

Skilled Occupations List (SOL)

Skilled Occupations List (SOL) has been renamed the new Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL). This list contains occupations that have been assessed as being of high value to the Australian economy and aligning to the Government’s longer term training and workforce strategies.

Department of Education and Training is responsible for conducting annual review of this list with the 2017/18 publication due on 1 July 2017.

Department of Education and Training – their role in the process

As per their website, the Department of Education and Training is responsible for national policies and programs that help Australians access quality and affordable early child care and childhood education, school education, higher education, vocational education and training, international education and research.

The Department provides advice to the Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills who makes recommendations to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection on the composition of the MLTSSL.

  • The suitability of occupations for inclusion on the list is assessed through a two-step process
    • The first step involves identifying occupations that are most susceptible to supply constraints (e.g. due to the time taken to develop necessary skills) and/or most likely to warrant Australian Government intervention to address these constraints (e.g. due to the cost of a shortage or the likely impact of supply side policies)
    • The second step involves assessing the medium to long-term skill needs of the economy for each occupation, identified in step one, to determine if the occupation would benefit from skilled migration. In general, an occupation will satisfy the second step if a surplus of skilled workers is unlikely in the medium to long-term. Assessment is based on a wide range of indicators in addition to stakeholder input

Stakeholders, including representatives of industry, employees, trade and professional organisations, made submissions to the review

The research is generally conducted from September up to May-June the following year with publication of the revised list being made available to the public on 1 July. 

What to expect on 1 July 2017

Whilst this article does not provide a magic answer to the question on minds of many lawyers, agents and applicants regarding which occupations will remain on the List, I am hoping that it gives some insight into what is actually involved in determining the final outcome. 

Feel free to drop me an email on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions or comments.




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  • Davor - Dmitric
    Davor - Dmitric Friday, 19 May 2017


    is it possible with any occupation (Computer Network Systems Engineer) from Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) to apply for Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)?

    Also, I saw that there are some occupations on Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL), so the question is same, is it possible with occupation from that list to apply for Skilled Independent Visa (Subclass 189)?

    Thank you.


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