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Migrant and Refugee Students Struggle to Find Work in Australia


Friday, 24th November 2017 at 2:43 pm
Luke Michael
Migrant and refugee students are almost 25 per cent less likely to find full-time employment after graduation compared to Australian-born students, according to new research.


Friday, 24th November 2017
at 2:43 pm
Luke Michael


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Migrant and Refugee Students Struggle to Find Work in Australia
Friday, 24th November 2017 at 2:43 pm

Migrant and refugee students are almost 25 per cent less likely to find full-time employment after graduation compared to Australian-born students, according to new research.

VicHealth, CSIRO’s Data61 and the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) released a report on Thursday, looking at the trends impacting young refugees and migrants’ wellbeing.

It found only 45 per cent of migrant and refugee bachelor degree students were able to find full-time employment after graduation, compared to 69 per cent of domestic students.

Racial discrimination, a lack of understanding of the local job market and the fact that overseas skills and qualifications may not be recognised, were raised as barriers to employment.

“Young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds also face extra barriers to entering the labour market due to racial discrimination… which may cause some young people to conceal their race or ethnicity when applying for a job,” the report said.

“Finding a job requires time, digital access, helpful networks and an understanding of how the Australian job market works [and] young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds may not have this knowledge or established local networks.

“These problems are significant, given that finding employment is an important milestone into adulthood, and when building a secure life in a new country.”

Young migrants were also found to be much more likely to be in part-time employment than full-time work, and were over-represented in “gig economy” jobs.

“Temporary migrants may be inclined to take up jobs in the ‘gig economy’ as a way of earning income without breaching their visa conditions… But the prospect of extra work hours can come at the cost of lower wages, reduced workforce rights, tax obligations and lost productivity spent waiting for work tasks,” the report said.

“This emerging trend signals the potential for young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to be exploited by employers if they do not know their rights.”

CSIRO’s Data61 research scientist Dr Claire Naughtin, said this research highlighted the range of social, political and technological changes impacting the mental health and wellbeing of these young people.

“What we’re seeing in Australia as we enter Industry 4.0, is entire industries are becoming data-driven and this is impacting all aspects of Australia’s workforce today, creating new types of jobs and skill sets,” Naughtin said.

“The research shows that refugee and young migrant communities also bring with them many unique qualities, such as global networks, new ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit, which can enrich the fabric of Australian society.”

MYAN chair Carmel Guerra added that young Australians were broadly accepting of multiculturalism, but said “a steady increase in racism” warranted attention.

“While the adaptation to new economies and digital technology brings opportunities, and this group of young people often have broad global networks, racism can adversely affect many young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds,” Guerra said.

“From our work, we know that all young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds want to be able to access the support and opportunities they need to be active participants in our society.

“To make this a reality we need to ensure that important evidence like this report translates into more inclusive and targeted service delivery and policy at a local, state and national level.”

The full report – Bright Futures: Spotlight on the wellbeing of young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds – can be viewed here.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.


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