As those of us working in the diversity and inclusion sector or who have taken the citizenship test recently would know, over one quarter of Australian residents were born overseas. The latest data, which analyses working-age migrants, shows that 34% of Australia’s population over 15 years old (6.9 million people) were born overseas, similar to the data three years ago. Of the 1.9 million working age migrants who arrived in Australia over the last decade, 68% are employed, up from 65% in the last Characteristics of Recent Migrants Survey. This compares to 65% those born in Australia.
The Australian government is highly invested in migration employment, making research on how to effectively employ and retain migrant workers valuable.
WOW HDR member Rosa Faaliyat recently co-authored a journal article with Professors Keith Townsend, David Peetz and Dr Susan Ressia, in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Journal titled: ‘Skilled migrant employees’ perceptions of support from line managers’.
This research aims to understand perceptions of non-English-speaking background (NESB) skilled migrant employees and their experiences of line manager supervision and support in Australian organisations.
Research has shown the growing importance of skilled NESB labour – evidenced by the increase in NESB skilled employment in the Australian labour market over the past 15 years. Literature highlights how assimilation into a new culture and society for NESB skilled migrants is complicated in terms of settlement and seeking work. NESB employees have more difficulties obtaining work due to lack of networks and language barriers and research suggests the potential presence of bias towards these individuals, with implications for their access to job opportunities.
Once employment is found, settling into a new workplace can create social, economic and personal challenges. NESB skilled migrants may face obstacles in their career development and it can be difficult to retain employment due to lack of diversity and inclusion in management and policy implementation. It may be that once NESB skilled migrants secure employment, they perceive a lack of promotional prospects.
‘I chose this topic because as a member of Iranian and other migrant communities, I have watched friends and family with high levels of education struggle to find employment or progress in their careers, due to qualifications not being recognised and language barriers (perceived or real), among other reasons’ says Ms Faaliyat.
Ms Faaliyat says this article was based on her graduate certificate research and she would not have been able to publish her first journal article without the support of her co-authors, also WOW members. She is in the data analysis stage of her PhD, which is building on her earlier research by looking more closely at how migrant employees are supported by diversity and inclusion policy within organisations – we look forward to hearing the results!