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Get your qualifications and experience recognised

Do you need help with getting overseas qualifications recognised in Australia? This is a quick guide to how this is done. It might also be helpful for other jurisdictions like the U.K., as our system is based on theirs. If you need some help in preparing your documents, just email me.

What are the basic principles?

The process is designed to recognise ‘prior learning’ or ‘current competence’. The idea is to present your experience and training in a way which matches the skills and knowledge which are officially identified by the authorising organisation. This can be a gateway to a suitable job or a rise in pay.

Generally, each organisation in Australia (and the U.K.) which recognises qualifications gained in another country lists the criteria they expect the professional to meet. Alternatively, each university or vocational education course in Australia (and the U.K.) has a list of what is included in their qualifications as a basis for each unit.

There may be levels of professional expertise embodied by these skills and knowledge (for instance, Engineers Australia has a couple of levels). Engineers whom I have assisted have applied for recognition at the lower level and once receiving that, applied for the higher level. The recognition process has then allowed them to become members of Engineers Australia, which is a professional association offering various benefits to members, including professional development and networking opportunities.

What constitutes evidence?

You can include lots of different kinds of evidence and these can then be cross-referenced with each other to emphasise the consistency and depth of your knowledge and skills. Let the criteria for recognition guide the way that your evidence material is organised and cross-referenced. Examples are:

Make a timeline of significant events and actions in your professional career. This can include projects, particular challenges or specific cases. Then follow this with a detailed paragraph for each element on the timeline (or several elements described and combined into a few paragraphs).

List experience in specific issues which are common in your professional field. Then follow this with a paragraph outlining the steps taken in a particular project or case study which highlights each issue.

Do you see how in the two examples above you have already produced two kinds of evidence in each one (timeline + paragraph, list + paragraph)? However, wherever possible, you need to try to produce different examples to underline the officially identified relevant knowledge and skills.

More examples of evidence

Other elements which can be included on your timeline or list are these:

Describe how you were involved in leadership and updates of new programs, innovations in materials or treatments, new departments, or any other kind of change.

Identify the conferences, workshops, seminars you have participated in, including the names of any papers you have presented. Give the title of the event, the year and the location.

Provide current links to any online publications you have authored or co-authored.

Even if all these kinds of evidence seem incremental, the focus is on the weight and variety of evidence.

How can you best present your evidence?

Generally, your documentation will go to an individual assessor and then, on that person’s recommendation, it may need to be formally approved by a committee. Make it easy for them to say YES.

Always have a list of contents. This lists each document in your application. Number each document and give its page number.

Always make a summary table of what are listed as the criteria for skills and knowledge (often these are called ‘competencies’) that the organisation requires.

On this table, put their list in one column and make comments in the other column like ‘refer to paragraph 3C in document 2, and 5A in document 18’.

If you need documents to be translated, get this done by an officially recognised translator. In Australia, use one from NAATI. Rather than originals, check if you can send notarised authorised copies of your originals. This means the documents and the originals are seen by the public notary (or justice of the peace), it is written on the copy that it is a true copy of the original, and the copy is signed by this authorised officer and stamped. You can generally find a justice of the peace at courthouses.

Finally, be prepared to send in more material if they ask for it. Be prepared for the possibility of some documents being lost in the approval process. As they say, ‘Rome was not built in a day’.

I can help you to prepare your application. If you or a friend need professional advice, please send me an email.

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