Skilled Occupation List ‘Traffic Light Bulletin’ released

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family business has finally released the Traffic Light Bulletin for consultation. The Bulletin includes the proposed changes to the Skilled Occupation Lists, including which occupations will be moved from between the ‘good’ Medium & Long Term Skilled Shortage List (MLTSSL) and the ‘bad’ Short Term Skill Occupation List (STSOL), the Regional Occupation List (ROL), or, worse, removed altogether.

This article will consider some of the major changes floated in the Traffic Light Bulletin.


Since the implementation of the 482 visa, with its distinct visa ‘pathways’ based on different occupation lists, waiting for the release of the Traffic Light Bulletin has become a macabre ritual for many employers seeking to identify future changes to the program.

The Traffic Light Bulleting includes details of which occupations ‘may’ be changed and which occupations may be subject to additional caveats, meaning additional criteria imposed on specific occupations to limit employer access to certain occupations.

The Bulletin includes identifies occupations as either red, for removal from the lists, orange, for movement between the lists, or green, for addition to the lists.

Employers will have until 12 February to make submissions on the proposed changes, or if they wish, to make submissions on other occupations.

Red occupations

The government has flagged 11 potential removals from the occupation lists, all from the STSOL and the majority related to trade occupations. Once removed, no further visas would be granted in these occupations. Applications lodged prior to the change will be determined based on the list in operation at time of application. However, applicants will not be able to renew their 482 visa.

The following occupations may be removed entirely:

  • Vehicle Trimmer
  • Business Machine Mechanic
  • Animal Attendants and Trainers nec
  • Gardener (General)
  • Hairdresser
  • Wood machinist
  • Massage Therapist
  • Community Worker
  • Careers Counsellor
  • Diving Instructor (Open Water)
  • Gymnastics Coach or Instructor

Orange occupations

Occupations flagged as orange move typically move from the STSOL to the MLTSSL, giving access to a longer visa with a pathway to permanent residency, or from the MLTSSL to the STSOL, removing access to permanent residency and reducing visa duration to 2 years.

Moves to the Regional Occupation List (ROL) restrict an occupation to only regional areas (as designated by the Department of Home Affairs). Depending on whether an ROL occupation moves the STSOL or MLTSSL the impact can differ based on the circumstances.

Occupations slated for the downgrade from MLTSSL to STSOL are exclusively trade-related:

  • Automotive Electrician
  • Motorcycle Mechanic
  • Locksmith
  • Painting Trades Worker
  • Glazier
  • Wall and Floor Tiler
  • Cabinetmaker
  • Occupations which may move from the ROL to STSOL include:
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Draftsperson
  • Real Estate Representative

Only one occupation is proposed to shift from the STSOL to ROL:

  • Geologist

The government appears to be taking on board some of the criticism from business about the lack of access to long term visas or permanent residency for some senior commercial roles. A number of occupations are proposed to be moved from the STSOL to the MLTSSL, for subject to high salary caveats:

  • Sales and Marketing Manager (salary caveat $120,000)
  • ICT Project Manager (includes Blockchain Planner/Manager) (salary caveat $120,000)
  • Information and Organisation Professionals nec (includes Data Scientist) (salary caveat $90,000)
  • Insurance Loss Adjuster (salary caveat $80,000)

Occupations to move from the ROL to the MLTSSL include:

  • Procurement Manager
  • Ship’s Master

Green occupations

Finally, a limited number of occupations are expected to be added to the STSOL. Interestingly, the care and nursing occupations have been considered insufficiently skilled for the 482 or 457 visa. These occupations will require the visa applicant to hold a positive Skills Assessment:

  • Corporate Treasurer
  • Aged or Disabled Carer
  • Nursing Support Worker
  • Personal Care Assistant


6 occupations are likely to have a salary caveat added to the occupation:

  • Poultry Farmer (salary caveat of $65,000)
  • Baker (salary caveat of $65,000)
  • Pastrycook (salary caveat of $65,000)
  • Horse Trainer (salary caveat of $65,000)
  • Fitter and Turner (salary caveat of $65,000)
  • Sportspersons nec (salary caveat of $120,000)


Employers should review the Traffic Light Bulletin to determine how their business may be affected by the proposed changes. Employers should not assume that any of the proposed changes will occur and we encourage any affected party to make submissions in support of their circumstances.

The Department has an established methodology for reviewing the proposed changes, but it is clear that other factors may be, and are, taken into account when considering how the Occupation Lists will be amended.

Presenting a strong business case, supporting it with data and evidence, are critical to demonstrating how the proposed changes may affect business.

This is a critical point to influence government decision making and should not be missed by those who may be affected.

Hammond Taylor has experience engaging with government and other stakeholders in relation to the Skilled Occupation Review. If you require support in making submissions to the government on the Review contact us for further information on how we can assist you to respond to the proposed changes.

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