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Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement

Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot

As part of the Australia-United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement (A-UKFTA) the Innovation and Early Careers Skills Exchange Pilot (IECSEP) provides new opportunities for UK citizens to take their next career step in Australia.

IECSEP aims to build on the existing connections between Australia and the UK, by establishing a new and streamlined mobility pathway for early career professionals and demonstrated innovators from the UK.

There are two streams under IECSEP:

  • the Early Careers Skills stream, which will allow participants to undertake a short-term placement, secondment, or intra-corporate transfer for up to one year in Australia.
  • the Innovation stream, which will allow highly skilled and experienced participants, with a demonstrated contribution to innovation, to undertake opportunities for up to three years in Australia.

Total visas available under the IECSEP will be 1,000 in the first year, and 2,000 in the second year of operation, during which the program will be reviewed.

IECSEP is now open for applications.

Application forms

The current round for the Early Careers stream will close at 11.59pm (GMT) on Tuesday 31 December 2024.

The current round for the Innovation stream will close at 11.59pm (GMT) on Tuesday 31 December 2024.

DFAT may close application rounds with respect of one or both IECSEP streams on a date before the advertised times above. DFAT will provide 7 days' notice on this webpage prior to closing a round before the advertised date and time.

The IECSEP Guidebook contains important information about IECSEP for applicants, their current employers, and prospective employers in Australia. It describes the application process and explains how applications will be assessed. It will be updated periodically.

All IECSEP applicants must have a confirmed job in Australia to be eligible to participate in the IECSEP. Applicants will need to provide DFAT with either a letter of employment offer, or a copy of an employment contract, to prove their prospective employment in Australia when they submit their application. This document needs to contain specific information in order for DFAT to accept it. You can find more guidance about this requirement in the IECSEP Guidebook. An IECSEP template letter of employment offer [DOCX 21 KB] is available for Australian employers to use.

Early Careers Skills Stream

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Early Careers stream applicants must:

  • be aged between 21 and 45 (inclusive) at the time of application
  • hold tertiary qualifications
  • have worked for at least 3 months in their current role, and the prospective employment in Australia must be relevant to the applicant's field of work in their current role
  • have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Levels 1, 2 or 3

Innovation Stream

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Innovation stream applicants must:

  • have a demonstrated contribution to innovation
  • be highly skilled
  • be highly experienced
  • have prospective employment in Australia in an occupation defined at the ANZSCO Skill Level 1

For IECSEP, innovation is broadly defined as the development or implementation of a new or improved product, process, or organisational method, or combination thereof. IECSEP recognises that innovation drives efficiency and productivity growth in all industries, and that innovators are working across a broad and diverse range of occupations. Innovation Stream applications are welcome from applicants working across all sectors, including service-based industries, and academia.

All IECSEP applicants must be able to demonstrate UK citizenship, and that they have adequate financial means to support themselves for the duration of their stay in Australia ($5000 plus the fare to where the applicant is going to after Australia).

Successful IECSEP applicants will need to apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a Temporary Work (International Relations) subclass 403 visa Government Agreement stream. DFAT will issue successful applicants with a Letter of Support, which must be presented to the Department of Home Affairs when applying for this visa.

How can employers and businesses benefit?

The IECSEP recognises the importance of innovation and skills mobility to the economies of Australia and the United Kingdom. The IECSEP will provide Australian employers with an opportunity to access innovative and early-career professionals from the UK, through the pilot of a new and streamlined temporary mobility pathway from the UK to Australia. UK organisations will benefit from employee upskilling, as well as a way of providing key staff with an international career development opportunity.

The Innovation stream will provide a unique opportunity for highly experienced and skilled UK innovators to work in Australian organisations for up to three years, including through intra-corporate transfers.

The Early Careers stream will give Australian organisations the opportunity to participate in 12-month secondments, placements, or intra-corporate transfers of tertiary qualified UK professionals who are early in their career.

If the IECSEP sounds right for your Australian organisation, talk about possible staffing opportunities under the IECSEP with your UK partners, or with suitably qualified potential applicants in the UK. Likewise, UK organisations looking to develop staff through IECSEP should reach out to Australian partners.

Contact us

For further information, please email aukfta.iecsep@dfat.gov.au.

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