I settled in Australia as a skilled migrant and know the difference between policy and reality

Interesting account, with parallels in Canada:

An immigration program might not be the economic silver bullet the government expects if it isn’t tailored to what’s happening on the ground. I have the lived experience of settling in Australia as an international student and skilled migrant, so I know all too well the challenges for people in that world between policy and reality.

There are some assumptions that have been built into previous immigration policies that are just plain wrong.

The biggest barrier for migrants looking for work when arriving in Australia is in getting their expertise recognised and their experience acknowledged. And then there is the additional barrier of inherent bias from employers who often have the choice of employing a migrant with foreign credentials and education or a domestic professional who has a shared understanding of Australia’s education and training systems.

This difference between policy and reality is a wide gap for skilled migrants arriving in Australia looking for opportunities.

Many skilled migrants arrive in Australia to enhance their skills. They have ripped up their lives at home to move to another country for a better life. It’s absurd to argue that these migrants gather only in populous areas, placing a social burden on services. They go where the work is, and because of unintentional biases they go where other workers won’t for opportunities.

On a recent trip to Alice Springs we took with the multicultural adviser to the Northern Territory’s minister of multicultural affairs, it became clear that members of the South Sudanese community moved there to be engaged in work relevant to their training and expertise, despite their deep connections with their community members in Melbourne.

This is not an isolated case, with thousands of people on migrant visas filling roles in regional communities where there are opportunities. Hence, the discourse should not be about total immigration numbers, it should be about meaningful employment opportunities.

But if there is not the work available in regional areas for skilled migrants, then they do gravitate towards those communities where they have deep connections. This puts a burden on services in city centres.

Source: I settled in Australia as a skilled migrant and know the difference between policy and reality

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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