Refugee talent: something to think about the next time you hire


Australia is frustratingly full of untapped and unrecognised potential.

“We have a phenomenon where up to 30 per cent of our refugee intake comes from highly-skilled professions and trades, yet many of them fail to get their training and their certification in this country,” explains Assistant Minister David Gillespie, who is in charge of settlement services for the federal government.

On top of the personal trauma and loss that often tinges humanitarian migration, many refugees also face professional barriers that stall their careers – and in some cases, force them to work in jobs they are supremely overqualified for.

Here’s what they’re up against:

The cost – requalifying to local standards is astronomical. Bridging courses and exams can run into the thousands of dollars.

The language and training – some professions, especially medical disciplines, may have different training requirements, and by nature need a high English language proficiency.

The ‘local experience’ catch-22 – refugee professionals are often held back by a lack of local experience - which many recruiters and employers require.

Progress is being made in both the public and private sector. Reports say Minister Gillespie is “floating some ideas” for a scheme that would mirror the Youth Jobs Path program, and reward companies for hiring from the refugee talent pool.

While that gets going, business can interrupt that vicious catch-22.

Consider whether your workplace can offer people from refugee backgrounds employment opportunities, preparation programs, vocational training, work experience or mentoring programs.

Paid trial periods and internships can beef up resumes with local experience.  Organisations like AMES can help organisations and refugees find each other.

And on 19th June, DCA is partnering with the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Careseekers to host a Building Cultural Capability event. Coinciding with Refugee Week, this event looks at tapping into refugee and asylum seeker talent. Recognising that certain people can’t get jobs because they don’t have local experience (and they don’t have local experience because they can’t get jobs) is a small, but significant thing.

 Register today and show your support. 


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