Saturday, 22 March 2014

A Letter from an ex-editor

Dear S and A, 

Hope this letter finds you well. I read your blog entries when I needed to do my IELTS, gain clarity into the application process etcetera, so, thank you for being so generous and open in sharing your experiences, which no doubt have benefited many others besides me. I find it hard to be so forthcoming with my own history (even my FB name is an alias), so, would you be able to remove my name, initials and parts of my bio if you so happen to wish to reply and/or publish on your blog? 

I am writing to you because I had started applying a year ago, but just three weeks back, Canberra removed my nominated occupation (editor) from the SOL. Due to my complicated employment history, I had hired an agent to help me, so it was a shock mentally and financially when the occupation was removed after I had paid about $2,000 for the agent, application and IELTS. Another reason I would like to seek your advice is, I think S’s experience was in communications like me, while A was a teacher—and I am considering to retrain in that field. 

I’m 32 yrs old and have been taking on various comms-related roles, and have been considering a switch in career, so my desire to venture into early childhood/ primary teaching stems from a solid interest, though my decision to go into these was also heavily influenced by the emigration pathway. I have been talking to a number of friends who have studied in Australia before or are in Australia, and I have been reading many forums, and it makes most sense to just approach you two who had face the same immigration rules and perhaps similar perspectives, since we are from Singapore/ Asia. I’m considering a Masters of Teaching, especially early childhood since that is on the SOL and according to the media at least, there is a demand for such teachers. (I don’t have the aptitude or an equally strong interest in secondary level). This would most likely cost me $100k—a huge sum of money that neither I nor my family can afford. I have some savings, and am prepared to use up all, but I would still need a sizeable amount which I think can be done through part-time work. The stakes are very high for me, so I just want to ensure that I make the most suitable decision. 

According to people in Oz forums, even the locally qualified with extensive experience are finding it tough to find a permanent job. This implies that, by the time I can get to apply for PR in three years’ time (and that is, if the criteria hasn’t changed), I may not even land a job and fulfill that one year experience needed, or this position may be removed sooner or later. Would you be able to advise on job availability for early childhood educators? Are there sufficient jobs so I can go on SOL, or should I ensure I study and work in the same state? How difficult would it be to work part-time doing such a Master’s? Thanking you for everything you’ve shared, and for taking the time to read this. 

Warmest wishes, 


Hello *Amy,

Believe it or not, this is hardly the first time I have heard about prospective migrants whose lives have been (quite literally) put on hold after their nominated occupations have been removed from the SOL. I imagine it happens every time the authorities and/or each State update their SOL, more often removing occupations than putting in new ones. I have also encountered individuals working as retail pharmacists who are desperately applying for skills re-assessment as a 234211 Chemist after 5 pharmacy-related occupations were removed from the SOL in July 2013. So first off, let me say that I do sympathize as you have been unfortunate in circumstances not within your control. I can tell from your account that you have been positive and proactive in your migration plans and I'm glad that you are taking steps to find an alternative, which in your case is switching your career pathway. Good on you!

Pharmacists = Chemists??

As for your specific question on early childhood teaching as a career option in Oz, I would have to give you some disappointing news. Based on statistics from the Dept of Immigration, there is a much lower demand for early childhood teachers in Australia than say, Primary and Secondary School teachers. I'm not sure if you have visited Skillselect and glanced at the occupation reports so far. For 2013-2014, the occupation ceiling value for early childhood educators is 1500 while that for primary teachers and secondary teachers are close to 9000 and 8000 respectively. I'm not saying that early childhood teaching may be removed from the SOL in the next few years, but if it does, do you have yet another backup plan?

I can tell you have done your research and you are probably right that even qualified locals are finding it difficult to find a full time job in the current economy. This certainly appears to be the case based on my current observations. A colleague of mine who graduated with honours from Melbourne Uni worked as a Pizza delivery boy (for less than minimum wage) for more than a year before landing a full time job. Another colleague with a Bachelor in Animal Science mentioned that less than half of the graduates in that field end up working in animal related jobs, with most of them working in animal cleaning jobs in the meantime. Another has told me that the current unemployment rate in Oz is about 20%.

Regardless of what you read, don't lose hope. I always listen with discretion and take in all information with a pinch of salt, especially information from forums. Every individual's circumstances are different. If childhood teaching is your passion, you could excel in it and carve a future with that, despite the circumstances and hearsay.

You mentioned taking a Masters in Teaching that costs $100k. Based on the cost alone, I would suppose you are intending to pursue this Masters overseas, probably in Australia as an International student. You are right that the stakes for your case are high. As a start, I would advise you to go through the Australian Skills Assessment details to ensure that the Master course you are intending to pursue will indeed be recognized as equivalent to at least a teaching diploma. In Singapore, our equivalent is the one-year Post-Grad Dip in Education (PGDE) which includes a 10-week practicum in a school. As far as I know, the 10-week practicum aspect is a compulsory component for recognition. In short, do find out if teaching practice is a compulsory requirement for your occupation and whether your intended Masters programme offers that hands-on component. If teaching practice is required, find out the duration required for recognition.

Working part-time while studying is certainly the norm here unless one is terribly rich and/or lazy. It is a very common option for both locals and international students. However, I have a feeling it will be challenging to find a part-time job in childhood teaching if you aren't already qualified. It is much easier to find part-time jobs in F&B that don't require formal qualifications. Another point to note is that any job that involves children requires a working with children check so that may be something you want to apply for as soon as you reach the shores of Australia, assuming you do eventually decide to do the Masters in Oz.

I know that the information I have shared so far is not terribly uplifting for your circumstances. Here's where I go back to my general philosophy when it comes to the migrant's mentality : When there's a will, there's a way. How far are you willing to go? How much risk are you willing to take in order to pursue your passion and your dreams? Is migrating more important to you or is pursuing your new career in childhood teaching more important to you? Will you be happy to pursue this new path in Singapore should migration not be viable for you in the future? Is there more than one path to living meaningfully and without regrets?

How I imagine Amy must be feeling.

Stay strong, have faith, take care and do look us up for a cup of kopi if you happen to be in Melbourne in the future. Or you can also bother asingaporeanson if your destination is Perth, haha. Cheers.

- A


  1. I applaud Amy's determination in immigrating overseas. At the same time, immigration is indeed an arduous process fraught with many uncertainties and both S and A have highlighted that well in this website. In the case of Amy, I would suggest that you try to find a related job in your current field of communications in the SOL list. That way, you will not have to spend too much time and money retraining. Schooling as an international student is very very expensive.

    Also, even for primary and secondary school teachers, it may not be easy to find work in the big cities in Australia due to a surplus of teachers. One is likely to end up teaching in rural towns because that is where few people would apply.

    Another suggestion is to go beyond Australia. How about New Zealand and Canada? Even though you may not qualify for Australia, you may qualify for these two other countries. In any case, finding work in a new country takes time (even after graduation). Therefore, you will need to have extra funds to tide through the period of unemployment as well.

    I wish you all the best Amy

    Overseas sinkie

    1. Thank you so very much. I need the luck! :)
      Many people have encouraged me to go to NZ, making it sound easy, but the SOL list is very short, and the visa options limited. Do you know of a possible pathway?

      There's no other job category in the SOL or any CSOL list that I can go for.

      Surplus of teachers? Yea, that's what I've heard too. So..should I listen to all these facts and still press on , as A says, "don't lose hope"?....

      - Amy.

  2. Hello Amy,

    If you don't mind moving to NZ, I can offer you my hand in marriage.

    1. Haha, your comment cracked me up lol!

      But on a more serious note, I believe CK's point is that the 'fastest' pathway to migration if your occupation is not on the SOL is to marry an existing PR/citizen. That I can't deny and have probably mentioned it in earlier posts. I won't be so sure Amy is not yet attached / married though... ;P


  3. Hey Neurotic, how do you see the ceiling for each of the occupation?

    1. Hey there,

      Go to skillselect main page, then click on the reports tab. All the occupation ceilings for the occupations in general demand is listed and updated each month.


  4. Hi A & S,

    I had previously written to you when you first published news about your success in getting the invite for visa 189.

    My application was submitted earlier than yours but I didn't receive the invite, so was very puzzled then. Then later, skillselect announced freezing the invitations for a few occupation groups of which mine was in. I was totally distraughted as both myself and spouse had felt confident of getting the invites given we were Aussie graduates. Just as we were losing hopes as even visa 190 offers nothing for us given all states had closed their doors on us, today suddenly I received an invite. So, yes we will be coming soon. Yeah!
    Anyway, hope Amy reads this and she might find some hope here as all might not be lost yet, especially come July there will be a new list again.

    1. Thanks Anon for your comment and congratulations!

      Indeed, time waits for no man and opportunities are lost frequently when it comes to occupation ceilings. On a side note, when it comes to visa processing, it makes no difference whether you are an Australian graduate or an overseas graduate, as long as the overseas qualification is recognized by the Australian Skills assessment authorities. Australia does not prioritize international ex-students in visa processing / invites for EOIs.

      All the best in the remaining part of your application!


  5. If not mistaken there are 5 extra points for overseas applicants whom have graduated from an on campus Australian university, these points will be extremely helpful for those who need them badly.

    Though state nominated applicants are committed to live in their nominated state for first 2 years but it is not compulsory and it has priority in PR visa processing over independent applicants.

    1. yea, let's hope the rules won't change in 3 years.. ha!
      For now, I am indeed going in the hope of what you've pointed out.

      - Amy.

  6. Hello A & S,

    We are another Singaporean couple who got our PR 2 years ago but deliberated our move to OZ due to family reasons. Getting ready to move to Melbourne in the next 2 to 3 months now. We do not have any relatives or close contact in Melbourne at all and friends labelled us as super gungho as it does sound scary enough when u dunno anyone in a foreign land.
    We hope to get some advice in this cyberspace:
    1. Is it possible for us to get our Victoria driving licence, medicare account without securing a rental place yet?
    As it seems like there is no one that we can rely on to borrow the address right now and getting a rental place without a secured job seems tough, we are stuck with this chicken and egg issue isn't it?
    Is there any way we can overcome this?

    2. Did you use the IOM for extra baggage? Is their airfare really cheap?

    Do you have an email that we can contact you? Thanks.
    K & S

    1. Yes. But we don't give it out on our blog.

      Leave your email with more details about yourself. Preferably with your facebook account (which isn't a dummy account). The comment will not be published for your own privacy. ;)


    2. Hi K & S,

      Sorry I did not answer your questions. Will pop you an email shortly. But let me answer your queries here:

      1. Yes, that's what we did. But we stayed with our friends and used their address. Have got a potential solution for you if you fly over at the right time. Discuss over email

      2. Who's IOM??? Can't remember if we mentioned but we flew on Jetstar with 40kg checked baggage each, which is 100kg plus hand carry, for two pax. Used Seven Seas but had a very bad experience with them. I do not recommend using them for shipping.

  7. hey, what a pleasant surprise. As I didn't hear back from you on Facebook, I'd thought you were too busy with your lives. Thank you very much for the thoughtful answer and the suggestions. You're spot on with that picture of the person staring down many pathways!

    I just read your latest posts, and stumbled upon this.

    I know how it feels to want to take a break from SG news. Though I'd miss your observations, please do what is best for you.

    Stay healthy. take care, enjoy life! (same goes to every reader here..we have to continue living well)

    - "Amy"

    1. Hey I've lost your email. I'm assuming you are K&S.

      We don't check for comments or replies too often (and on the occasions I do, it's to chuck the spam out and just publish the non-spam comments without really reading them)

      I'll be on the lookout for your next comment.

      Others trying to pull a fast one, good luck.

      So Amy/k&S, make sure the comment has your email, prefaced with DO NOT PUBLISH, and leave some nice juicy (NOT SALACIOUS) details about your lives so that I'll feel like adding you on FB.

      And don't worry, I still honour "DO NOT PUBLISH". In fact by default I will never publish any comments with emails unless specially requested.


  8. Hi Amy,

    Reading your story was like reading my story! Exactly the same situation as me! I applied under newspaper/periodical editor sponsorship under ACT and managed to lodge in my application like seconds before the cut-off date! It was nerve-wrecking and it's been nearly four months before I received an email from ACT which notified me that my application was being processed. The email also stated that that even though it was being processed:

    "The ACT is currently unable to confirm nomination on SkillSelect as we have reached the nomination ceiling set by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for 2013-14.

    Confirmation of ACT nominations will recommence when the ceiling is reset on 1 July 2014."

    So I had to wait till July 1, and then received an email again that stated that ACT is willing to sponsor me and three minutes later, SkillSelect invited me to apply for the Visa 1900! I am now in the midst of gathering all my documents, having my medicals done and etc!

    Please don't despair, because we are both in very similar situations so there is still hope!


  9. just read mira's comment. i'm going to cry. - Amy

  10. I'd like to point out my migration agent was James Hall of He ran an agency but as the only migration agent, was the only one authorised to give advice. He took on so much - including many overseas business trips - and was very tardy with his responses--costing my application. Again, as mentioned, my employment history was complicated so I had to reply on his advice. I know I needed his advice in the early stage but he really ruined everything.
    - "Amy"

  11. "Amy" here. I've made it.