Engineering job vacancies up 176 per cent, while skilled migrants feel overlooked by employers – ABC News

Engineering job vacancies up 176 per cent, while skilled migrants feel overlooked by employers
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New data suggests almost half of migrants actively seeking a job as an engineer are currently unemployed, as job vacancies in the sector rise by 176 per cent.
The National Skills Commission Labour Market Insights to June 2022 found 47 per cent of the group did not have work, although vacancy numbers in engineering continued to be the highest seen since 2012.
Engineers Australia CEO Romilly Madew said many skilled migrants in Australia could fill these roles but employers were biased against hiring migrants.
"Research shows there is a significant cohort of migrant engineers already in Australia who have long-term difficulties securing employment appropriate to their experience," she said.
"Our research found that employer bias associated with not being 'local' — whether it's experience, networks, standards, references, or qualifications — was the biggest culprit.
"Tapping into this under-utilised talent supply offers one immediate means of easing skills shortages."
Karen Huang said she was not surprised migrants were struggling to find work in the sector.
Ms Huang moved to Australia from Taiwan in 2012 with a university degree and career aspirations.
Like many other skilled immigrants, she could only find work in hospitality.
She has lived in the Pilbara for about four years, surrounded by the country's mining and resources sector, which Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has described as the "engine room of the economy".
Vitaly Bazarov and Anna Shmatko came to Australia with their daughter Mariia after being displaced by the war in Ukraine. Despite being an experienced boilermaker and diver, Mr Bazarov has been unable to find work.
Ms Huang, now the chair of the Northwest Multicultural Association, said many members moved to the region to work in the resources sector, but struggled to get a foot in the door, despite being qualified.
"It's very difficult when you come from a non-Australian culture, especially when it comes to interviews," she said.
"Skills are overlooked simply because bosses are concerned you won't fit in with your colleagues."
She said language skills could also be a barrier to employment.
"You can get knocked back from an entry-level job for a grammar mistake in a cover letter. They assume you're uneducated because your English isn't perfect," she said.
Ms Huang said she was hopeful more migrants would be able to find work in engineering and resources.
"I think if you want to do something, just do it, don't limit yourself, if you want to chase it, just keep trying, even if it take maybe hundreds of times or thousands of times, you'll get there," she said.
Engineers Australia is the federal government's approved authority to assess skills and competencies for the engineering profession.
Ms Madew said the organisation ran a migrant skill assessment to test people looking to become engineers.
"We're looking to see if their overseas qualifications and skills are comparative to the requirements of being an engineer in Australia," she said.
After completing these programs, migrants can prove to employers that overseas studies and industry experience qualifies them to work in skilled professions.
Participants also satisfy English competency standards to confirm their language skills are up to scratch.
But even when there was recognition of prior learning and work, migrants who have completed these courses overwhelmingly said their international experience was not valued or was overlooked.
Ms Madew believed employers held an unconscious bias towards hiring non-Australians.
"Once the migration skills assessment is done, their experience and attributes should be recognised, but there is definitely a bias there," she said.
"It comes back to an idea that since they don't have local experience or networks that they won't succeed in the Australian workforce."
The ABC reached out to major resources and mining employers, which said they were committed to fair work and hiring practices.
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