More migrants find jobs


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Content type
Media release

October 2017


Diana Smart, John De Maio, Pilar Rioseco

The findings – from the Building a New Life in Australia study – were released today by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

The Institute’s Director, Anne Hollonds said that two-and-a-half years after arriving in Australia, migrants’ employment prospects had markedly improved.

“Two-and-a-half years after their arrival, 23 per cent of the humanitarian migrants had progressed into employment, up from 6 per cent when they had been here for less than 6 months,” Ms Hollonds said.

“The employment rate for migrant men was higher than for women, with 36 per cent of male humanitarian migrants in work, compared to 8 per cent of women two-and-a-half years on.

“A gradual move into employment is clearly underway in a significant proportion of these migrant families where employment rates have increased four-fold.

“Gaining employment was easier for migrants with higher levels of education and well-developed English skills.

“However, most of those in paid employment were in relatively unskilled occupations, like labouring despite having been in more skilled jobs in their home countries.”

AIFS Research Fellow, John De Maio said the study is tracing the lives of a group of almost 2,400 immigrants in all states and territories, except the ACT to document their resettlement experiences.

“This is a vulnerable group. Many are fleeing trauma and persecution and have spent time in camps and detention centres. Some have little English and their schooling has been interrupted,” he said.

“However, the study shows that the more time spent in Australia, the higher the likelihood that their English has improved and that they have secured 
paid work.

“Nearly 90 per cent of migrants have now undertaken language classes since arrival. Some 28 per cent had taken another type of educational course in the year leading up to the most recent interview.

“Before arriving in Australia, almost 37 per cent of these migrants could not understand English at all. Now, fewer than 11 per cent of migrants are in that category.

“Despite these shifts, some areas remain a challenge, particularly the need to target employment services effectively to help maximise the skills of migrants.

“A sizeable proportion of migrants had technical, managerial or professional jobs in their home country but had not been able to fully utilise these skills in Australia which had forced them to ‘skid’ down the employment ladder into low skill jobs.

“We need well-targeted programs to maximise migrants’ skills to secure their economic self-sufficiency and to help boost Australia’s overall economic productivity.”

Read the full Research Summary: English skills, engagements in education and entrance into employment for recently arrived humanitarian migrants.

Media contact     
Kate O'Connor      
Phone: 0499 860 257  
Email: kate.o'[email protected]