Australian employers are missing out on an entire sector of the workforce, with limited pathways currently available to skilled migrants entering the professional workplace, according to a new report.
Following the announcement that Western Australia has declared Perth a regional employment zone in order to harness the skills of migrants, research unveiled in Canberra yesterday supports the drastic move.
The new AMES report, Words to Work, has confirmed and demonstrated that migrants represent an overall underused, yet motivated and committed workforce.
According to the report, 94% of newly arrived migrants intend to find long term skilled employment, and plan to undertake bridging courses to bring their skills up to local standard.
Presenting the research to Senator Kate Lundy and the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Cath Scarth, AMES general manager, community & policy said it was a triumphant close to the three year research project which interviewed and monitored some 250 refugees and migrants from their arrival in Australia.
Speaking with Human Capital, Scarth said, “Recruiters might have concerns about the level of support migrants may need. To some extent and in some cases it might seem a bit too hard. But once people are given the opportunity, and HR and recruitment people see the calibre first hand, they quickly see how motivated and committed [migrants] are.”
According to the AMES study, barriers between connecting migrants with employment stemmed from a combination of factors.
Lack of local networks, limited or no Australian work experience and generally being unfamiliar with the process of finding work in Australia were found to compound the difficulties of finding employment in their professional field.
The study found that migrants didn’t see learning English as a great barrier, and often settled for lower positions. Some 40% found paid employment, while another 91% were considering up skilling in their chosen field and recognised they needed more specific Australian work experience.
“Of the migrants at the more professional level, they did expect they would be able to find work in their professional field. And it’s true that if we don’t find pathways for them to enter the workforce using their skills, we’re really missing out,” Scarth said.
Scarth said that often employers aren’t clear on what their overseas skills translate into, but those hurdles can be overcome with greater support. She also reported that surveyed migrants spoke very highly of government initiatives to assist those seeking work, but said there needs to be an increased level of vocational counselling.