EXTRACT from an article bySenior Research Officer and Research Fellow, Australian Institute of Family Studies.
While refugees will always face major challenges in making the transition to employment, new research indicates their job prospects improve the longer they are in Australia.
But for those who do find work, it’s not always in their chosen profession. Most are in low-skilled occupations.
The Building a New Life in Australia study is longitudinal, following the journey of almost 2,400 humanitarian migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, from their arrival in Australia or when granted a permanent visa. The participants come from 35 countries and speak close to 50 languages.
Some 89% have experienced significant trauma such as war and persecution. Most have arrived in Australia with little or no English, and many had their schooling interrupted.
The challenge of finding work
At the first interview for the study (three to six months after arrival for most), 6% of participants aged 18-64 were in paid employment. This had risen to 16% around one year later (during wave 2) and 23% two years later (wave 3). This is a four-fold increase between the first and third interviews.
Employment rates for men were higher than for women, with 36% of men in paid work at wave three compared to 8% of women. Many women take on family and caring obligations in the early years of settlement, which partly explains their lower rates of employment.
We found searching for a job can be challenging and time-consuming for many humanitarian migrants.
Most participants had been in Australia for only a few months at the first interview. Over 80% of those job seekers found it hard to get a job. Consistent with previous research, humanitarian migrants’ employment is expected to gradually increase as they spend more time in Australia.
SOURCE: Rioseco, Pilar and De Maio, John. “Three Charts On: Job prospects for refugees in Australia.” The Conversation, 1 November 2017.
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