The Guardian - London
Saturday April 5 2008
You want to make a change and build a new life abroad - but do you have the skills demanded by your chosen country? Andrea Wren looks into the careers that travel well.
What do piano tuners, glass blowers and acupuncturists have in common? They're all jobs that feature on the list of "in-demand" professions in Australia, whose points-based immigration system the UK is about to adopt. Yes, the biochemists, engineers and other more conventional professions you'd expect are there too. But among the 200,000 Britons who emigrate each year are many who have won their visas and permits in unusual occupations.
Like private investigator Dave Turner, managing director of legal agency The Parklane Partnership. In the UK, the firm's office is managed by his son, Colin, but Turner himself works in Bulgaria, where he has recently bought a house with his wife. Turner's work is definitely not run-of-the-mill, as his normal duties may include undertaking commercial investigations, tracking down absconding debtors, and seeking missing heirs to hefty inheritance cheques.
"A lot of our work involves tracing assets and checking whether people have what cash they say they have, or whether they have more stashed away in the country. Bulgaria is a cheap country to come to and hide money, and we investigate what people have or haven't got under instruction from solicitors, often in pre-sue situations."
Turner hadn't realised when embarking upon his search for pastures new that Bulgaria was going to be the place he settled on - it was, he says, last on his list- but after visiting, he saw the country's potential.
"Bulgaria is not only open for good investment, but for people who want to live and work here. The country is one in which we find UK money getting 'lost' by people who say they don't have any. As a business, we can offer a full European investigation service from here, which few other agents can do."
Now to Honduras and Cornwall College horticultural student Dan Kerins. If he is successful with a proposal he has made to Operation Wallacea - an organisation leading scientific conservation expeditions - Kerins will soon be helping the Hondurans grow fairtrade orchids and earning a new living.
"I had applied for a three-month job as habitat surveyor in Honduras with Operation Wallacea and while I was working on that, I got to know more about the lives of the locals," Kerins says. "Currently, they earn their income through growing vegetables, which involves destruction of the forest, so I came up with the concept of raising fairtrade orchids, which can be grown in sustainable ways."
If successful, the project Kerins has proposed will involve researching ways of helping the Honduran people to manage a sustainable economy through the orchid growth. He has received some positive feedback from Operation Wallacea, but now he just has to wait for approval and the "green light" on his proposal. If it goes ahead, though, he will only be able to work in the country for three months at a time, due to the visa. But he says he will be able to leave the country at the end of each stay to re-enter a few days later on a new visa.
Even if the fit between your job and your preferred destination is not an easy one, determined people can find a way. Music producer John Brough had initially been told there was little point in attempting a visa application to Australia, but he and his wife have just lodged an emigration application through Visa Unit, a migration service that supports and advises people through the application process.
"I went to a lot of agents and some didn't even consider me, but I have worked with the likes of U2, Jamie Cullum and Queen, so I found an agent willing to look around the problem," says Brough. "I have applied specifically for a Distinguished Skills Visa, which is aimed at people whose skills or qualifications are not on the primary occupation list but who could still contribute something to the country."
It may be 18 months before Brough finds out whether he and his wife are being granted the visa, and then admission is subject to passing medical examination. If all goes well, the visa will be valid for five years at a time.
However, even if your occupation is "on the list", other more formal qualifications may be needed too. In Australia, for example, the law has recently changed on this, explains John Mumford, managing director of Visa Unit.
"Last year the Australian government changed the points system for entry and Trades Recognition Australia changed the skills assessment process for trades people wishing to migrate into the country," says Mumford. "A new 'trade skills assessment' requires certain trade occupations to have a technical interview and practical assessment."
Nick Clayton, author of the Guardian Guide to Working Abroad, says there are other considerations. "Before you pack your bags, make sure that you have all the paperwork necessary to take up employment. In countries that have a federal system of government you may find that there is another set of local hoops to go through before you can actually take up a job, even after you've passed through national immigration.
"Australia, for example, is notorious for allowing skilled workers in, then not allowing them to work until they have completed onerous state tests and sometimes spent months in a local college to prove their qualifications."
· nextstepaustralia.com, expo-canada.com, working-abroad.net
for link to Guardian article click the title of this post