Newly arrived migrants and refugees in Australia studying English need help and support to get on the jobs ladder, new research has found.
They often struggle but with adequate support they can integrate and find a job but the study found that they end up relying on family or other contacts rather than Government support programmes.
Indeed, the survey from resettlement agency AMES of migrants in Melbourne, found many were underemployed, had lost career status and were on low wages. Although 75% had overseas work experience just 24% had gotten a job in Australia.
Six months after completing their language courses some 60% were available for work. Of those 56% had a job while 44% were looking for work. Of those working some 70% had casual or part time work or work that was beneath their qualifications or experience.
Many reported having found work through personal or social connections but half reported that they had no support in seeking work and only a third were connected to the Government’s jobactive programme.
The study found that the students believed that confidence and proficiency in English were the most important factors in finding work. The remaining 40% had either gone on to further study or were caring for children.
The study’s lead author Monica O’Dwyer said that those who found jobs mostly worked on a casual basis and fewer were in permanent, fixed term or self-employment. The majority, 67%, were in part time work of less than 35 hours per week. Of these, 61% said they would like to work more hours.
Half of the working respondents told us they were earning more than $20 per hour and 4% said they were earning more than $30 an hour. But 32% said they were earning less than $20 an hour. O’Dwyer said he relatively low pay rates reflect the low status occupations of many respondents.
Yet many had skilled careers before moving to Australia. Some 48% were managers or professionals, 15% clerical and administrative workers and 11% technicians and trade workers.
In contrast, since moving to Australia, of those who had work some 37% were labourers, 19% sales workers, 14% community and personal service workers and 14% clerical and administration workers.
‘What we found was that ongoing support after the completion of English classes is very helpful in getting people into work. Things like job clubs, networks of people in similar occupations and post course support are really useful,’ O’Dwyer added.