Melbourne, March 31: New migrants are finding it harder than they expect to find suitable work in Australia and low levels of English and a lack of local experience are the biggest barriers, a new study has found.

And the lack of support for jobseekers newly arrived to Australia can contribute to exploitation in the workplace, the study found.

The research, carried out by settlement agency AMES Australia, found

  • job seekers with tertiary qualifications were the least satisfied with employment outcomes;
  • while those who arrived without qualifications were more likely to be satisfied.

Sixty-seven per cent of those surveyed in the study had a tertiary qualification before coming to Australia. Despite this, after four years most were working in factories, child or aged care or in customer service.

Titled ‘Finding satisfying work; The experiences of recent migrants with low level English’ the study found women experienced even greater challenges in finding work appropriate to their skills.

Researchers Monica O’Dwyer and Stella Mulder said many migrants had already invested significant time and resources in tertiary education and training and that this was the case in each of the migration streams – including humanitarian refugee entrants.

“Most of the people we interviewed said that it took longer than expected to find any work at all in Australia – even at an entry level,” the researchers said.

“A significant period of unemployment or in highly insecure employment definitely put a dampener on people’s expectations of finding work more closely related to their training or experience – even as their English and familiarity with Australian workplace cultures increased,” they said.

“Others who did not have education and skilled background were more likely to find entry level jobs in Australia that was relevant to their expectations,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

She said there was a major gap in support for migrants once they had completed their 550 hours of federal government funded English tuition.

The study canvased 245 people newly arrived to Australia over four interviews between 2008 and 2013.

Although, the AMES study reflected conditions for migrant employment, it did not take into account the current surge in migrant population and its inherent squeeze on the employment sector.


Overseas-born Australians have reached highest numbers since 1895, new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed.

More than 28 per cent of the population were born overseas, the largest proportion in 120 years.

South Asian countries have figured highest in the increase, with Indian ranking at at fourth place after Nepal, Pakistan and Brazil. Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Myanmar follow after India.

Although this migration surge was driven by the Australian policy of “populate or perish”, it has also led to huge infrastructural and unemployment issues.

Employment growth has not kept up with population growth with local youth being hit the hardest and local work culture and ethics being impacted the most.

Monash University’s Centre for Population & Urban Research released in 2014 found that total net employment growth was mostly being diverted to migrants; hence it would be tough to argue the case for migrants’ expectations without meeting the immediate need of local job seekers.


Only last month, Former NSW Premier and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr had called for Australian immigration to be cut by one-half.

He hinted that if immigration was to continue with current numbers, it could well “change the Australian style of living.

“I think the Australian people, if asked, would want immigration slowed,” Mr Carr said at a press conference in Sydney.

“We’ve got a third-world style population growth rate”, he said.

Mr Carr said Australia had the highest rate of population growth of any developed country and that the growth was undermining policies by governments to make housing more affordable and to improve infrastructure.

“It’s always never enough”.

“… I would rather think a lot of Australians would believe we’ve lost something of ourselves.

Mr Carr said Australia’s economy should focus on export-led growth and stop relying on an expansion in its domestic market.


Shalini Singh

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