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Media Release: Key professional skills being wasted

6 August 20130 comments

The skills of professionally qualified migrants to Australia are going unused because they need help in overcoming significant barriers to getting a job, according to new research.
An evaluation study of the ‘Working the Australian Way’ program – which aims to prepare migrants for the workplace – found that professionally qualified new migrants to Australia often faced considerable challenges in finding work in their fields.

The research, by settlement agency AMES, found barriers to work included a lack of knowledge about the local labour market and recruitment practices, limited access to professional networks, little experience of Australian workplace culture and difficulties in having qualifications recognised.

The ‘Working the Australian Way’ program, operated by AMES, introduces professional migrants looking for work to senior personnel from leading Australian companies. Participants receive advice about professional interviews as well as insights into Australian workplace culture. The program, which also emphasises the creation of professional networks and sharing resources and experiences, has achieved success in helping professional migrants find work.

The evaluation found that three quarters of participants said the program helped them in their job search, gave them “new confidence as well as strategies and networks for finding professional work in Australia”.

73% of participants started a new job after the workshop, almost all of them within three months.

The study’s author social scientist Monica O’Dwyer said the research showed small interventions could make a difference in helping newly arrived professionals into work in Australia.

“Attracting people with professional skills and qualifications is a significant objective of Australia’s immigration program,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

“But in many cases these skills are going unused and we are missing out on potentially productive people who can bring new perspectives and unique problem solving skills.

“We are seeing many of these professional migrants accepting jobs outside their skill sets or in roles well below their actual capacities,” she said.

She said programs like ‘Working the Australian Way’ could help harness the skills and experience of professional migrants.

“Our research shows these kinds of programs are effective in giving professional migrants and insight into and some experience of what it takes to get a job in Australia,” Ms O’Dwyer said.

She said corporate partners involved in the program regarded it as a worthwhile investment in time and personnel.

About AMES
AMES is the leading provider of humanitarian settlement, education, training and employment services to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants in Victoria. A statutory authority of the Victorian Government, the organisation manages a range of federal and state government contracts including Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS), the Adult Migrant English program (AMEP) General Services and Distance Learning programs; and Job Services Australia (JSA).

AMES has built a range of partnerships with universities, TAFEs, migrant resource centres, health professionals, real estate and community organisations. The four economic and social determinants of Health and Wellbeing, Education, Employment and Safety and Security are what AMES focuses on to deliver its vision of “full participation for all in a cohesive and diverse society”.

For images, interviews and more information please contact AMES Media Advisor, Laurie Nowell at or 9938 4031 or 0498 196 500.