Working in Sydney

This year’s Olympic Games will put Sydney on the map for many people who have never thought seriously about working here. So what has it got to offer today’s job seekers? Richard Willsher reports from the major Australian city

Sydney has a population of 3.2 million and is the country’s financial and business center. It is the state capital of New South Wales, which is home to 6.2 million people, a third of the country’s population. There is currently a drive to promote Australia in general, and Sydney in particular, as a global financial sector. Australia is the gateway to Asia and is gearing up its business environment with that in mind.

Australia is made up of eight states that have quite a degree of autonomy on law-making, taxation and in the structure of their local industry and commerce. You could enjoy a very decent lifestyle in terms of career and fun in just about any one of them.

Getting in and getting on

Although many parts of Australia have unemployment rates of 8 to 9% this can be misleading, as much of this is due to industry retrenchment and consolidation. There is virtually zero unemployment in the financial services sector. Major companies include AMP, NRMA, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac.

The country needs well-qualified people in a range of professions. Ian Matheson, managing director of Sydney-based investor relations firm Computershare Analytics, says: ‘Accountants and IT people are especially sought after in the financial sector.’

The financial services sector is currently under scrutiny due to the Corporate Law Economic Reform programme (CLERP). The government describes CLERP as an initiative to improve Australia’s business and company regulation ‘to promote business, economic development and employment’. Compliance is therefore an area in which the financial sector is gearing up.

Four ways to get a visa

If you are under 26 you can work under the working holiday maker scheme. Australia has reciprocal arrangements with Canada, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Malta, the Netherlands and the UK. However applicants from other countries may be considered if there is ‘a prospect of worthwhile cultural exchange’. The visa runs for six months and can be extended for a further six, but it is important to check the details with your local Australian embassy, high commission or consulate.

Another way in is through Australia’s employer nomination scheme, which enables Australian and international employers to sponsor overseas staff for jobs in Australia. However the job must first be advertised in Australia to prove there are no skilled Australians able to do it; employees must prove they have the necessary skills to do the job.

Employees can also apply for an employer sponsored visa if they take up a post in Australia.

For permanent residence applications, employees must be under 45, have good English skills and be highly skilled in their particular field. The employer in turn must prove no Australian resident can do the job, provide the employee with three years full time employment and prove they have a commitment to training.


Sydney, in particular, has a flourishing cultural and social life with a wealth of galleries, concert venues, fine restaurants and cappuccino bars. Australia also has a longstanding tradition of being known as a sporting nation with a rich variety of sports on offer. And if you fancy surfing the waves after work, Sydney can offer you some of the best beaches in the world. A distinct plus if you’re used to London, Frankfurt or Paris.

The place to be

Sydney has a great deal going for it. It may not be a financial and commercial center on the scale of New York or Tokyo, but then it does not have a lot of their problems either. And it was going to be the place was in September 2000 when the Olympic games  staged in the city.

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