Migrants ignored in skills shortage – Climate Control News

Findings from the Barriers to Employment for Skilled Migrant Engineers study reveals that despite migrants accounting for almost two thirds of qualified engineers in Australia, many struggle to find work in the sector and others are underemployed in junior roles despite being highly skilled.
Engineers Australia CEO Dr Bronwyn Evans AM said it’s an alarming imbalance and the effective use of all available engineers should be considered a national strategic imperative.
“Australia has an engineering skills shortage exacerbated by COVID-19, an engineering job vacancy rate that has gone up 97 per cent in just 12 months, and an economic recovery hinging on major infrastructure projects,” Evans said.
“This research shows that 47 per cent of our qualified migrant engineers are unemployed and they can’t crack the Australian jobs market at a time when employers are reporting skills shortages.
“These are skilled engineers driving taxis and delivering takeaway. This report clearly shows industry bias, a lack of a local networks and pathways to securing work as the biggest barriers to migrant engineers finding employment.”
Engineers Australia commissioned an independent research group to survey more than 800 migrant engineers and conduct in-depth interviews with employers and recruiters as part of the report and as a way to address the imbalance.
Amongst the findings -one of the biggest barriers to employment for migrant engineers was employer bias associated with not being “local”- whether it’s experience, networks, standards, references, or qualifications.
“Migrant engineers report their international experience is simply not valued in Australia. Many lose faith in the job-seeking process and fall away from the profession as a result,” Dr Evans said.
Engineers Australia recognises the importance of improving pathways into the profession for migrant engineers and is consulting with industry on a pilot program that will enable them to draw on the existing talent pool.
‘We absolutely value the importance of getting this right from a personal, professional and national perspective,” she said.
“Productive employment of migrant engineers is vital to our national engineering capability and unless changes are made our future economic growth is at risk.
“We want to work with employers to co-design solutions, because they will only be successful if employers embrace them.”
While 47 per cent of migrant job seekers are unemployed, those with humanitarian visa holders are even less likely to be employed, with only 29 per cent currently in the workforce.
The report also found that one in three migrant engineers feel that, based on their experience, they should be in a more senior role.
Recruiters interviewed for the report claim Australian companies not only have unconscious bias, but also active conscious biases towards hiring migrant engineers.
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