Migrants Matter

migrants matter

Here’s How They Make Australia Better

We’ve probably all come across a migrant working in a job they’re excessively overqualified for: a qualified lawyer in another country now a taxi driver, an accountant working in a fast food outlet.

However, could this be changing?

New research says that migrants who have arrived in Australia with tertiary qualifications in the last five years are twice as likely to work in their field of expertise as those who arrived more than fifteen years ago.

Skilled migrants now make up more than two-thirds of migrants to Australia, a significant increase. About twenty years ago, skilled migrants made up less than half of all migrants.

Lesleyanne Hawthorne, a migration expert from the University of Melbourne, says that policy changes around boosting skilled migration and enhancing English-language screening has helped job outcomes for migrants.

“If you compare Canada and Australia in terms of skilled migration 15 years ago … about 60 per cent [of skilled migrants] were employed in six months,” Professor Hawthorne said.

“With Australia’s policy changes, we’ve moved to 83 per cent within six months. Canada’s stayed pretty much the same.”

But there’s still a long way to go.

“The cliché of medical professionals, PhDs and other highly educated immigrants driving cabs for a living or getting jobs as unskilled labourers is, sadly, very true today,” Professor Collins said.

Professor Collins also notes that ABS figures point to recently-arrived migrants being nearly twice as likely to have a university degree as Australian-born workers.

“It hurts migrants’ occupational mobility and makes the Australian economy less productive and innovative, and yet it is immigrants who often get blamed for economic problems,” he said.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. SBS launched their new program, Small Business Secrets, in July, which focuses on the success of migrants.

“What we so often hear is that migrants and refugees are coming here and taking our jobs,” said Whitney Fitzsimmons, executive producer.

“But what we know for a fact is that they’re the most entrepreneurial, that they often actually create businesses that employ people and they take risks.

“As the show mentions, they make up around 30 per cent of sole traders.”

Migrants and The Innovation Economy

Fitzsimmons says the new study shows just how innovative migrants are.

“A lot of people from conflict zones are actually not risk averse at all, which is why they thrive in small business. They have been through so much trauma, that taking a risk in business is not actually seen as risky,” she said.

“This show is for people who have businesses who need stories they can relate to.”

Migrants and Regional Australia

And then there’s the recent study that shows the benefits of migrants to regional centres.

A report by the Regional Australia Institute stated that 100 small rural communities that welcome migrants have turned their fortunes around, with migrants increasing economies and creating more jobs.

Professor Hawthorne believes that, despite the challenges, Australia is ahead of other advanced economies.

“In world terms, Australia has exceptional outcomes,” she said.

“Not perfect, but exceptional.”