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Jobs outlook good and bad

25 October 20170 comments

Refugees resettling in Australia are finding work in larger numbers but many have skills that are going to waste, a new study shows.

The study, by the Institute of Family Studies (IFS), shows almost a quarter of refugees have found employment after two-and-a-half years – up from six per cent in the first six months.

The study, which tracked 2400 refugees across the country, found it was easier for men to get a job compared to women, with 36 per cent of men employed compared to eight per cent of female refugees.

Many refugees have experienced trauma, and have spent time in camps and detention centres with interrupted education – adding to their barriers in finding work, the study said.

IFS director Anne Hollonds said those with higher levels of education and English skills fared better.

However, most were working in relatively unskilled occupations like labouring despite having been in more skilled work in their home countries, she said.

“Australia has forced them to skid down the employment ladder into low-skill jobs,” Ms Hollonds said, adding that better-targeted programs were needed.

Refugees’ English language skills were also on the increase, with 37 per cent who did not understand the language upon arrival dropping to 11 per cent within the study period.

The report comes as Australia is in the midst of a ‘jobs boom’, with 54,000 new full-time positions created last month and the Australian Bureau of Statistics predicts the unemployment rate will drop from almost 6 per cent to 5.6 per cent.

But entry level jobs are hard to come by.

The latest jobs availablity snapshot from Anglicare shows the battle for these jobs is fierce, and growing.

Across Australia, there is an average of 4.8 applicants for every entry-level job.

Tasmania fares much worse with more than double that amount and South Australia is seeing 7.5 applicants for every entry-level job.

The jobs availability snapshot takes government statistics and puts job postings into categories.

Level one jobs require the most qualifications with level five jobs requiring the least.

It then compares the number of level five jobs available with the number of job seekers with the lowest skills.

The snapshot shows there has been a consistent drop in the number of available entry-level jobs over the past five years.

In 2012, there were regularly more than 60,000 level five entry-level jobs available per month across the country.

This year, that number has plummeted by more than 10,000 per month.

In that time, Australia’s population has increased by nearly 2 million people.

“There’s a whole lot of people who are trapped on the edges of the job market,” said Anglicare deputy director Roland Manderson.

“They can’t get a job. They can’t get a life,” he said.

And for those who can get a foothold in the job market — many are underemployed.

They either cannot find jobs that match their high skill level, or they are in part-time work and want to work more.

There are now 1.1 million people considered underemployed according to government statistics – an increase of 225,000 from last year.

Anglicare says the implications of the report are clear: there is an urgent need for more government intervention to help those who face the most barriers getting a job.

“The market’s not going to do it because we don’t have a market that looks after people who are on the edges,” Mr Manderson said.

He said there was a desperate need for more tailor-made job solutions, helping to feed employment demand in industries like disability services and aged care.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist