Date 01.02.2016 Interview Questions for Douglas Eckhart

Douglas Eckhart works at Overseas Emigration and specialises in the applications of skilled migrants seeking a new life in Oz! We catch up with him to find out about his role and to get some handy hints for the application process!

Can you tell us a bit about your role as a member of the skills team in Edinburgh?

I am responsible for working with clients to compile and lodge their skills applications to the relevant assessing authorities in Australia. The clients I work with are from all walks of life – while the majority of our clients are UK based, I also work with clients from mainland Europe and beyond.

In addition to gathering documentation and compiling the application on behalf of the client, I also monitor the application during the processing phase, responding to any requests from the assessing authority as required.

There’s no doubt the skills application process is a tricky one for the non-specialist, where a missing document or wrong wording on an application form can have massive consequences. Working closely with the client, I am able to guide them every step of the way, ensuring that their skills application is the very best it can be.

What kind of trades do you get enrolling?

We have quite a few electricians and bricklayers. Carpenters and joiners are also keen applicants. Other common trades include painter & decorators, plumbers, mechanics and those in the metal trades.

Can you tell us about the time frames involved for hopeful migrants?

In terms of skills processing times, it really depends on the trade being assessed. A single-stage TRA application takes 60 working days to process, whereas multi-stage applications can take a couple of months or more, depending on the assessing authority’s schedules for technical interviews and practical assessments.

What are the main mistakes made by candidates applying for the skills assessment?

The most common error is to underestimate how detailed the employment evidence needs to be. Glowing character references stating what a wonderful person you are do make good reading, but they cut no ice with assessing authorities! What matters is the detailed nature of your trade experience and that this is verified in writing by managers and supervisors. Candidates can also run into problems when it comes working out exactly how much experience they need to verify for skills verification and for visa points.

Qualification verification can also be problematic for candidates. It is not always immediately obvious where their UK qualification sits on the Australian Qualification Framework (AQF). A qualification’s comparability to an AQF 3 or AQF Diploma is often critical for the application.

Do you have any handy hints and tips for those thinking about the move to Oz?

The first thing is to be realistic about the timescales involved – The migration process takes time, a lot of time. Recognise that you are in for the long haul. Secondly, make sure you go all out on your paperwork – the application will pass or fail on the quality of the documentation provided, so it’s absolutely critical that all your work experience is referenced, paid employment is verified and all qualification documents are provided. Tracking down old employers and chasing up promised references can be a slow and frustrating process, but it’s worth the effort – your dreams depend on it!

written by Oonagh Turner