Date posted: 23/01/2024

Joint submission on the Professional Year programs for accounting, IT and engineering

Improving employment and migration outcomes for international graduates and migrants by building on Professional Year programs.

In brief

  • International graduates struggle to find jobs matched to their skills despite skills shortages
  • The PY programs for accounting, IT and engineering have helped improved work readiness outcomes
  • There is scope to do more with the help of government

Australia continues to face nationwide skills shortages across hundreds of occupations, yet too many international graduates and migrants struggle to find employment that makes best use of their skills.

Providing work readiness programs and pre-employment services to help international graduates find work that is better matched to their skills in areas of shortage is critical given the recent finding in the Migration Strategy that over 50 per cent of graduate visa holders with a bachelor’s degree or higher are working in roles significantly below their skill level, despite studying in areas tied to skill shortages.

For around 15 years, the Australian Computer Society, Engineers Australia, Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, CPA Australia and the Institute of Public Accountants (the professional bodies) have helped improve the work readiness of international graduates in our fields through Professional Year (PY) programs.

The PY programs comprise a formal learning component conducted in class, and a work experience component, with internship host employers. The focus is on preparing graduates for the workplace covering culture, practices, ethics and employee rights.

However, there remains scope to do better and to do more, for more, with the help of the Australian Government.

The joint submission of the professional bodies seeks the government’s help to implement reform proposals designed to improve employment and migration outcomes for international graduates and migrants by building on the PY programs.


  1. The government permit the professional bodies to introduce PY entry requirements that align with industry expectation ensuring international graduates commence the PY within the 24 months immediately following university graduation.
  2. The government mitigate impacts of current post-study work settings to align with employer expectations.
  3. Schedule 6D of the Migration Regulations 1994 be amended to remove the expectation that PY programs run for a period of at least 12 months.
  4. The government permit the professional bodies to deliver the PY programs within a more flexible arrangement, allowing for a shortened duration.
  5. The government permit the professional bodies to introduce or approve alternative modes of delivering the formal learning and work experience components of the PY, as well as opt-in pre-employment and transition services.
  6. The government extend the PY program to overseas graduates of IT, accounting and engineering programs, where there are grounds for confidence in their technical competencies.
  7. The government offer a PY to other recent migrants who have not worked in Australia.
  8. The government and professional bodies examine the merits of introducing PY programs in other professions facing skill shortages.