Migrant unemployment

Official unemployment  figures do not reflect the true extent of joblessness among emerging communities

Migrant and refugee settlement agency

According to leading migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Chief Executive Officer Cath Scarth, the effective unemployment rate among some communities from non-English speaking backgrounds in Australia could be as high as 20 per cent. Scarth said Australia’s unemployment rate was currently at 5.6 per cent and for Australians born in the Middle East or North Africa, the rate was 9.2 per cent and for people from sub-Saharan Africa it was 7.5 per cent.

“Because being employed is now defined as working an hour a week, the effective unemployment rate is higher than it appears,” Scarth said.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates unemployment at 13 per cent when ‘underemployed’ and ‘discouraged’ job seekers are included,” she said.

Ms Scarth said that if this differential – 5.6 per cent versus 13 per cent – was transposed to some emerging communities, the effective unemployment rate could be as high as 20 per cent.

 SPMP program operated successfully by AMES,” she said.

“This is a four-week intensive program that addresses some of the barriers facing skilled migrants and refugees. It develops understanding of the Australian job market and workplace culture.”

She also called on more employers to make available work experience opportunities, workplace mentors and jobs for new arrivals.

“Over the next decade I’d like to no longer be advocating for this as employers will have the evidence and the practical experience to know the value of including migrants and refugees in their workforces,” Scarth said.

She said the barriers to finding work for new arrivals to Australia included: poor English language skills; lack of local labour market knowledge; lack of local work experience; and, diminishing confidence over time.

Ms Scarth said partnerships with employers also offered a solution to reducing unemployment among new arrivals to Australia.

“For example, the ‘Job Ready Pilot Program’ – a partnership between hospitality group Accor, my organisation AMES, the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the former Department of Immigration and Citizenship – is succeeding in getting newly arrived refugees and migrants into work experience opportunities and jobs,”  Scarth said.

“I’d like to see this model replicated and implemented on a large scale and embedded in many other workplaces to give many, many more people an initial opportunity.”

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RBA gov au
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A Conference on Long Term Unemployment will address the groups at risk including migrant unemployment. If you want to participate as a speaker or register for the conference the website is www.longtermunemployment.org.au  or you can email secretariat@longtermunemployment.org.au

Long-Term Unemployment Conference 2014
A national conference focusing on at risk groups for Long-Term Unemployment will be held on 18-19 August 2014, QT Hotel Surfers Paradise
URL: www.longtermunemployment.org.au    Ph: (61 7) 5502 2068
Call for papers
Early Bird ends 7th July 2014