Career challenges for our new arrivals

Partners of skilled migrants who come to Australia often end up taking up a different career in a “lesser capacity” than what they were used to in their home country, creating “underemployment” among members of the multicultural community.

“A lot of immigrants’ partners have had to retrain and take work in a much lesser capacity than what they’re capable of,” Gippsland Multicultural Services director Lisa Sinha said.

According to Ms Sinha, there are a number of factors contributing to this difficulty in finding employment, suggesting some local employers do not recognise the “benefits of diversity” in the workforce.

“Even if they’ve been through having their qualification (assessed) employers can be a bit reluctant to recognise their overseas experience,” she said.

“I think it’s a lack of experience and understanding for the Australian local employers.” However Ms Sinha said a shortage in local labour supply changed this attitude.

“In the health and allied health professions it’s the norm to have people from all over the world providing their service partly because positions couldn’t be filled locally.”

She said some applicants even trained to get a higher qualification but still found it difficult to land a job similar to their overseas experience. Bosede Adetifa found herself in the same situation.

A secretary by profession in Nigeria, Ms Adetifa arrived in Australia in 2000 together with her husband who was hired as a nurse in Gippsland.

Failing to find employment in the same field, Ms Adetifa enrolled herself in a six-month office administration course.

After years of looking for employment, she realised office administration may no longer be the right career path for her. Ms Adetifa then decided to pursue her childhood dream in nursing. With an Australian post graduate degree in mental health and currently taking her master’s in nursing management, Ms Adetifa is now working as a nurse at an aged care facility in Traralgon.

“I’ve come a long way but it takes time and persistence. People should not give up,” she said.