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Employers see benefits in hiring migrants, refugees

11 April 20240 comments

A new employment program is connecting newly arrived skilled migrants and refugees with employers who see value in their skills and experience.

The ‘Settling Into Work’ (SiW) social enterprise works with employers who value diversity, practice inclusion, and who understand the unique expertise and value migrants and refugees bring to the workplace because of their experiences.

One of those employers is Stewart and Heaton, a Melbourne-based manufacturer and supplier of emergency service garments to agencies across Australia.

The company recently employed Anh Booth, a Vietnamese migrant who initially struggled to find work after arriving in Australia.

She was supported to re-establish her professional career through the SiW program, delivered by migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia.

Anh had worked in senior roles for global fashion giants such as Gap, Banana Republic, Victoria’s Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Adidas but took a career break to raise her children.

But when she arrived in Australia in 2019, she struggled to re-enter the workforce despite her impressive academic qualifications.

Anh, 42, was supported by the SIW team through help with preparing a resume and cover letter, guidance through the job application process, and assistance in sourcing appropriate roles with quality employers in her field who would recognise and value her skills and experience.

She also completed AMES’ Skilled Professional Migrant Program which gave her insights into the Australian job market and workplace culture.

Stewart and Heaton General Manager Steven Kulibaba said his company was always looking for skilled and committed employees.

“We are always struggling to find good, skilled people and I heard about Anh through a connection at my local football club,” Steve said.

“She was first employed in our production supply chain. But early on we realised she was more capable than that. Now she is on a permanent contract in our Southeast customer service team,” he said.

Anh said she was thrilled to be working at Stewart and Heaton and that the SiW program was key to her being able to resume her career in Australia.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have the interview at Stewart and Heaton and for the helpful advice and tips to prepare well for the interview,” she said.

“I was confused about how to go about getting a job in Australia but when I connected with AMES through the SiW program it gave me clarity and direction and led to me being able to find a first job in Australia,” Anh said.

Steven said Stewart and Heaton was always looking for people genuinely interested in working hard and developing themselves in an organisation like ours.

“And it’s nice to be able to be doing something that is giving people a chance to thrive who otherwise might not get that chance,” he said.

Steven said the partnership with AMES was not only beneficial for Anh and Stewart and Heaton but also personally rewarding.

Having experienced his own family’s stories and journey as displaced persons after World War II, he said he valued the chance to give back to the community and provide individuals like Anh with opportunities to flourish in their adopted homeland.

In embracing the skills and experiences of migrants and refugees, employers like Stewart and Heaton are not only enriching their workforce but also fostering a more inclusive and vibrant society.

Other organisations employers who have hired migrant and refugee employees through the SiW program include Spark Alliance, Albury City Council and the M80 Project.