Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Migration Chapter 4: Skills Assessment and my personal experience

Hello readers, welcome to the chapter on Skills Assessment! You are here because you are intending to apply for Australian Visa Subclass 189 or 190. As of 1 July 2012, Australian Immigration requires all applicants for Subclass 189 and/or 190 to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) and before you can submit your EOI you must first obtain a positive skills assessment.

If you have stumbled into the middle of this series by mistake, do take a look at our overview chapter first.

What does 'Skills Assessment' mean?

In the first chapter, I mentioned that in order to apply for Permanent Residency in Australia, you must offer a skill that Australia requires. The list of occupations in need, known as the Skilled Occupation List (SOL), is reviewed every year in July.

The most current SOL (effective from 1 July 2012 till 30 June 2013) is here.

If your current occupation is one of those listed, take a look at the name of the corresponding assessing authority on the rightmost column - this is basically THE Australian National Agency that will take a close look at your work experience as well as educational qualifications, and determine if you can be considered a skilled worker according to Australian standards.

Are you skilled according to Aussie standards?

Sounds simple enough? I've provided the direct link to some of the most common assessing authorities below. Be prepared for a long read - there are LOTS of details to look out for.

  1. Engineers Australia - https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/about-us/migration-skills-assessment
  2. VETASSESS (for some tradespersons) - http://www.vetassess.com.au/migrate_to_australia/migrate_to_australia.cfm
  3. Medical Board of Australia  (for doctors, medical specialists and most other medical personnel) - http://www.immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/migration-medical.htm#skills
  4. Australia Computer Society - http://www.acs.org.au/migration-skills-assessment
  5. ANMAC (for nurses) - http://www.anmac.org.au/application-options
  6. AITSL (for teachers) - http://www.aitsl.edu.au/assessment-for-migration/applying-for-an-assessment.html
  7. TRA (for some other tradespersons) - http://www.innovation.gov.au/Skills/SkillsAssessment/TradesRecognitionAustralia/MigrationSkillsAssessment/Pages/default.aspx

My Own Experience

As long as you are a teacher intending to migrate to Oz, regardless of the level you teach, your assessing authority will be AITSL. Apparently, the other assessing authority listed, NOOSR, no longer does assessment for migration. 

The first hurdle for a migrating teacher is the stringent IELTS requirement for teachers. AITSL requires all applicants to take the Academic IELTS paper and score at least 7.0 for Reading and Writing, as well as 8.0 for Speaking and Listening. Like I said - really stringent. If your IELTS score is any lower than this, don't bother to apply for an assessment from AITSL - they have stated clearly on their website and application form that it's a waste of your time. I wonder how many intending teacher migrants out there are still trying to attain this minimum score - it must be genuinely frustrating! (I consider myself truly fortunate to have made the required IELTS score on my first attempt - Thank God!) 

A special note: You can be exempted from this IELTS criteria if you can prove that you have completed your undergraduate studies and teaching qualifications over at least 4 years full-time in Australia, Canada, NZ, UK, USA or Ireland. Talk about lucky!

Be prepared for a LOT of paperwork.

The second major hurdle is the sizeable amount of paperwork required for the assessment submission. The complete set of documents to be sent to AITSL includes (all copies must be coloured copies):

  • The application form (downloadable from here)
  • Copy of Passport 
  • Copy of Degree and Transcript
  • Copy of PGDE and Transcript (they call this 'initial teacher education' - whatever that means.)
  • The original Practicum statement from NIE - you have to write in to NIE to request specially for this and let them know what information to include. Basically AITSL needs to know that you have completed a period of 'supervised' teaching practice (ie Practicum)
  • Copy of IELTS Academic TRF
  • A passport photo

In addition, if you want to claim points for teaching experience, you also need to submit the following:

  • Original written statement from each of the schools you have taught at for the past 10 years, with a whole load of details required for each statement (as stated on the application form). If you are MOE staff posted to different schools, you can just write to MOE HR for them to produce one 'combined' statement for you. 

And that's still not all!

The next troublesome hurdle is this - All coloured photocopies of your submitted documents and the passport photo will need to be officially notarized / certified true by one of the following categories of people:

  • Certified Practising Accountant
  • Chartered Accountant
  • Commissioner for Oaths
  • Justice of the Peace
  • Notary Public
  • Magistrate
  • Judge
  • Registered medical practitioner (Medical doctor)
  • School principal
  • Solicitor
  • Australian Embassy/High Commission staff

Most of them (except your School Principal, I think) will do the certifying for a fee, some of which are chargeable per page - so be careful. Again, I was fortunate in this aspect - I have a good friend who is a medical doctor so I managed to get everything certified FOC. I advise you to start gathering all the required documents simultaneously as you are preparing for IELTS/waiting for IELTS results - NIE and MOE will take quite a while to produce the required statement of practicum/employment for you.

What it felt like waiting for the assessment.

Finally, the assessment by AITSL costs A$550 which is approximately S$700 and this amount is non-refundable regardless of assessment outcome. If you have completed your preparation of documents at this stage, take note that the application form and supporting documents need to be prepared in hardcopy and snail-mailed (or in my case, DHL-expressed!) to AITSL Headquarters in Canberra. The processing time is up to a whopping 14 weeks, with the count starting after they have received your hardcopy documents! 

After the agonizing wait and when the assessment is finally completed, all that's left is to wait a further (up to) 3 weeks for your assessment outcome to be snail-mailed to your address... PHEW. A word of caution - if you miss out ANY document in your initial submission, AITSL will email you to ask for the missing documents to be sent to them in hardcopy. If this happens, your assessment processing time will be reset to start again when they have received the additional documents!! Yes, carelessness is costly (in terms of wait time) - so check EXTREMELY thoroughly and get it right the first time.

As a reference for my fellow educators still waiting for your assessment outcomes, I received my acknowledgement email from AITSL on 14 March 2013 and my assessment was completed on 31 May 2013 - a total of 11 weeks and 2 days. I am just really thankful that the outcome after ALL that preparation and hard work is a positive assessment, bringing me one step closer to Australia!

First thing to do after getting a positive Skills Assessment!


Skills Assessment (for teachers, at least) is not for the faint of heart! I hope this guide is useful to everyone considering migration and do share this page/our blog with your friends. As usual, if you have any comments or requests for clarification, don't be shy :)

In Chapter 5, I will talk about the actual submission of the EOI.



  1. I received my engineering skilled assessment outcome in 5 weeks time.
    Degree from recognized/accredited uni or local Aussie uni does play a big part on the waiting time.

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for the info. I found it very informative.

    May I know what you wrote to NIE to request for the Practicum statement? Since you have gotten it successfully I would like to borrow your words to make sure there's no glitches.

    Secondly, I have applied for additional transcripts from NUS and NIE. Just to clarify, I have to submit a copy of the actual degree?

    Thanks for answering my queries.

  3. Hi WL

    Send a formal email to NIE student services centre. In the email, you should remember to include:
    - your formal request for a letter of certification/statement from NIE (this was the term I used)
    - your full name
    - the year/batch of PGDE you graduated from
    - the reason for your request of this statement
    - all the details required in the statement (according to the document from AITSL)

    To speed up the process, I also attached a soft copy of my PGDE cert and transcript so that they can verify my status. You also need to attach a NIE form requesting for certification which can be downloaded from http://www.nie.edu.sg/student-services-centre/certification-letter

    As for additional transcripts, I'm not sure why you need multiple copies? AITSL only requires a certified true copy when you submit the hardcopy.

    All the best!

    1. Hi, thank you S and A for this wonderfully informative blog. I used it a lot to guide me in my process. I just got my statement of practicum from NIE a few days back. Call me ngiau, but upon checking the statement, I realised that it mentioned my period of "Teaching Practice" without the word "Supervised".

      I am not sure how neurotic (pardon the pun) AITSL would be if the word Supervised is not present at all in the statement. Would "teaching practice" be already understood that it s got to be supervised?

      I am not sure NIE would look favourably at another request for the statement just because the word "supervised" is not there.

      Thanks! :)

    2. Hi Joe, how long did you have to wait for NIE to issue you with the practicum statement? Was it snail-mailed to you or e-mailed?

  4. Omg thank u for this awesomely useful post. Been wondering how to get the letter from NIE. :))

    Good luck with the PR application!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Hi,

    May I pls ask who in MOE do I get the combined statement from? I emailed to moe_hrms recently but no reply.

    About the documents to be certified true copy (CTC), any document need to be notarized or I just need to CTC all of them in coloured copies.

    Lastly shall I submit my Work Review for 2012 and 2013?


  7. To add on, a migration agent whom I spoke to lately, advised that a few documents need to be notarized but he didnt specify which ones.

    As for MOE HR, I found a couple of email addresses and moe_hrms seems the only one I shld email. Or should I just call MOE HR hotline?

    Pardon me for not being providing more details earlier.


    1. Hi KT,

      1. If the generic MOE email doesn't work, you can try calling the HR Online hotline or asking your school Admin Manager for the contact email of the MOE HR Officer in charge of your school cluster. It is difficult to get MOE HR to respond to you so you need to be resourceful.

      2. For skills assessment, you need to get certified true copies of all the docs to submit except the statements. You should refer to the AITSL application form for the finer details - they specify which docs are required for CTC and which require originals.

      3. If you have hired a migration agent, it's best to consult him / her for the details regarding your case since you've already paid good money for the service.

      Good luck.

  8. Hi
    Congrats again!

    You mentioned: "Original written statement from each of the schools you have taught at for the past 10 years, with a whole load of details required for each statement (as stated on the application form). If you are MOE staff posted to different schools, you can just write to MOE HR for them to produce one 'combined' statement for you. "

    Would a letter requesting for this from MOE HR suffice?
    What is the information required? I may miss out on some information as according to what I read from the AILTS instructions and application form, the details are rather straight-forward. Must the letter include recommendations or comments on good service etc?


    1. Hi Iniana,

      Think you need to read the AITSL application form very thoroughly as it states the information required in the original statement you will need to send to them. The statement from MOE need not include any form of testimonial, but it'll be good to request one from your school Principal anyway in case you need it for job hunting in Oz.


    2. Hi A
      Thanks for your advice. With repeated readings of the applications form and instructions, the paperwork seems more daunting than I had imagined. I left the service and Singapore 6 years ago, lost touch with the school principal whom I know has moved to another school and I am presently teaching in another country. As the statement has to be based on the last decade of employment, what is your advice? Also, in what format should the statement be? How specific should 'hours per week' be stated? I truly appreciate your kind attention.

    3. Hey Iniana,

      Hmm in that case your best course of action would be to email MOE HR directly (via their generic email), request for the information as mentioned on the AITSL application form and pray they reply you. I can't think of another way unless you happen to know someone from HQ that you can email directly to ask for help. Otherwise, you can consider getting a migration agent since your employment history seems slightly complex. The migration agent would be better able to advise based on your unique set of circumstances.

      As far as I know, there is no official 'format' of statement given - it just needs to be a letter with official letterhead from MOE with all the AITSL required information. MOE will probably state that for a typical MOE teacher (I was one) your working hours will total 42 hours per week, which is acceptable by AITSL. They just need the statement to know if you were a full/part time teacher in Singapore.

      As for testimonial, since you are teaching in another country now, best to get a testimonial from your current Principal then if you like. It will help for job application more than PR application.

      All the best,

  9. Hi A

    Thanks for your suggestions and advice. Very useful and practical. Will probably be coming back with more questions. Hope this is not an overkill.

    All the best to you too.


  10. Hi A,

    You have just shorten my whole application process. Thank you for this lovely blog.

  11. Hi

    any idea if aitsl accepts diploma in edu holders?

    Or does it have to be pgde only?


    1. Hi anon,

      Good question. You will need to check if the diploma in edu offered by NIE also fulfills the criteria for 'supervised teaching practice' as stipulated by AITSL. Offhand I would think they should recognize it as well but I'm not 100% sure.

      All the best,

    2. Hi A,

      who can certify if the Diploma in Education awarded by MOE fulfils the criteria stipulated by AITSL? Thanks in advance!

    3. Hi Anon,

      The answer is AITSL themselves. You have to do some homework and check. If it's a POST GRADUATE diploma, that's what A has and you should be fine.

      You can actually email AITSL and enquire with them. They *should* answer relevant questions without charge. They can't charge for email enquiries either way.. LOL

      To illustrate, I actually emailed the assessing authority for Ship's Officer to ask if my Navy credentials were recognised under that category, and they told me that it wouldn't be recognised.


  12. Hi

    I would like to ask how about early childhood diploma trained teachers who are not under the MOE. Can we still apply?

    What documents do we need instead?

  13. Hi Anon,

    For starters, your "early childhood diploma" should work.. Please check the SOL and see if they require Early Childhood Caregivers. :)

    In any case, you have to get accredited. So whether MOE or otherwise, you have to go through the same process, and it's not "bao jiak" (a given) either way that you will be accredited. Though I don't foresee a problem as long as you have prepared all relevant documentation


  14. Hi S,

    For the certifying of your documents, you mentioned that you had a good friend who was a doctor who helped to certify. Does it mean that any doctors in Singapore can help to certify the documents as 'certified true copy'?

    Thank you!

  15. Aline, yes.

    They just need to have their official stamp with their name, MCR number, etc. Which they would have.

    Then ask your Dr to sign and date (obviously you can do the date for him or her, there's many pages!)


  16. Hi A,

    First of all, thank you for this blog and congratulations on making it. I'm not sure if this has been discussed in you recent posts but in our case, we're applying as a family with my wife as the main sponsor. Do I need to submit my documents as well for the skills assessment?

    Thanks in advance.

    T. Yit

  17. Hi! Can I get a dentist friend to certify the docs for me? Are dentists considered medical doctors?


  18. If your dentist friend is based in Oz, then yes.



  19. Hi kudos to you for creating this blog. Super informative. I want to clarify if it is a must to do a skilled employment assessment when I do my skilled migration assessment? I also want to know if I need to send the job reference letter for my skilled migration assessment. Thanks for your time. :)

  20. Hi Neurotic Ramblings,

    Just to check and verify, which web link did you guys obtain the list of people who can certified the documents to be "Certified True Copy of the Original"

    Thanks in advance =)

  21. Hello A,
    thanks for your blog. It is very useful and practical and I am sure you are enjoying Australia now. =)

    I am in the process of starting my AITSL skills assessment. Wanted to ask if the coloured photocopies are necessary because I read thru the application form and there was no mention that coloured photocopies were needed. Can shed some light on this please? Thank you! =)

  22. Hi..i've reading your blog and am hoping to make my way to Australia. I'm a 3D animator ( 5 years with a diploma from Laselle ) but am currently working as an IT Helpdesk. I'm wondering about the skills assessment for these two occupations?

  23. Hi S,

    Thank you for blogging the whole process. It really helps in my preparation.
    Regarding AITSL IELTS requirement, any info on whether there is certain exception?
    I attempted IELTS 3 times, my reading writing and listening were at least 8, some even 8.5 and 9. But I always stumbled on my speaking test. 7.5.
    I am thinking of asking AITSL whether I can use my high scores on other components to compensate the 0.5 deficit on my speaking component.
    Do you have any info or experience about this?
    Thank you.


  24. Hi there,

    I've requested MOE HR for the employment statement - but they indicated that they need to know what it is for. I'm currently still bonded, thus, may I know whether it is wise to tell them it's for migration purpose? I understand that you have gotten yours through them - is this before or after you resigned from MOE? Many many thanks for this great blog!

    Warm regards,

    1. Hi Elyza...just wondering...so were you successful in requesting for the employment statement from MOE?

  25. Hi neurotic gamblings,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Wud like to know as to when did you despatch the documents for the AITSL to send an acknowledgement. .I mean wud like to know the duration of u receiving their 1st acknowledgement through email. .
    I had already sent my docs to AITSL a week ago ..and all my documents are black and white copies as aitsl has not mentioned anywhere that coloured copies are only accepted ..
    Could you pass some information on this.
    Thank you

    1. Hey Matthews, I have the same question. I'd appreciate it if you could throw some light. How long did it take for you to receive your assessment result. Its been almost two months since they received my application. Also, will they notify me about the results via email or only post? TIA! I guess neurotic ramblings is caught up and unable to reply.

  26. Hi, any singapore agent helps to do australia oversea pr?ntrust? I have difficulties on certify my documents. May i know how much you spent on australia PR?

    1. Hi there, I'm keen to know more about the migration agent as well.. i realised there is limited information online.

  27. Hi Neurotic Ramblings,
    Your blog is Amazing! *THANKS*
    I have a question in regards to "officially notarized / certified true copies of the documents" by the many profession mentioned, do they have to be working in Australia or can be working in Singapore. Say if i have a doctor friend working in Singapore, can he/she certified for me? thanks in advance for replying :)

    ps: I do know that I can bring all documents to any of your mentioned profession in Australia{if i happen to be there for a holiday} and they do it for FREE. but they will likely obliged to do max 3 documents.