Survey reveals the challenges newcomers face finding work in Australia

by Ray Clancy on December 8, 2017

in Jobs in Australia

A lack of local work experience and a foreign sounding name are among the barriers new arrivals to Australia face in finding work, a survey has found.

The research from migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia also found that migrants felt excluded by recruitment processes and that a majority of job seekers would take any job offered to them.

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(By Feng Yu/

The survey was carried out in areas in Melbourne and Sydney with high populations of culturally and linguistically diverse people and those taking part came from 29 countries with the majority from China, India, Vietnam, Syria, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

Some 29% said that they believed that a lack of local experience was the biggest barrier to finding a job while 24% cited English language proficiency as a problem and 21% said not securing an interview was the biggest barrier.

In focus groups conducted as part of the survey, several respondents who cited not getting an interview as a barrier said they believed having a foreign sounding name was a factor in this.

The research also found that 89% felt that recruitment processes did not give employers an understanding of the job seeker’s abilities and 65% had applied for more than 100 jobs since arriving in Australia.

Some 71% had been unemployed for more than a year, although a third of those who took part in focus groups said they had recently been caring for children, and 86% had worked before but only 43% had received training from an employer in the past.

Regarding the kind of job, the survey shows 53% were looking for unskilled work, 28% for skilled work and 19% were looking for professional work. However, 61% said they would take any job as a first step to employment in Australia and 74% that they would move to take up a job.

The survey found 87% believed there were not enough jobs to go around and only 23% believed there was enough Government support for jobseekers. Overall 83% were confident of eventually finding work while 7% were not and 10% unsure.

Tsigeweni Gebresilasie, a refugee from Eritrea, said she has applied for dozens of jobs and has had few replies and no luck in securing one. ‘It is very hard to get work with no experience but it’s hard to get experience if you don’t have a job,’ she explained.

Gebresilasie is now training with migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australian and hopes to get work in aged care or hospitality.

‘This survey shows that people new to this country a strong desire to work and contribute to the community. We know that the overwhelming majority of migrants and refugees are resilient and have strengths Australia can use,’ said AMES Australia chief executive officer Cath Scarth.

‘The survey tells us that giving newcomer more support in their approach to job searching and the challenges of navigating the labour market will deliver benefits to them and to the nation as a whole,’ she added.

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