Refugee Council of Australia
Woman holding ladder in shop

Not Working: Experiences of refugees and migrants with Jobactive

Australian work experience

Opportunities to attain relevant Australian work experience

A commonly expressed frustration among those who participated in this research was that Jobactive failed to provide sufficient opportunities for clients to gain Australian work experience. This has been a longstanding issue. ABS data from 2011 suggests that of the migrants reported having trouble in finding their first job in Australia, 64% attributed their difficulty to a lack of Australian work experience to expand their references and exposure to the Australian labour market.

Many expressed their keen desire for opportunities that would give them insight and understanding of Australian work cultures and systems and for job service providers to be able to facilitate targeted Australian local work experience:

We hope to get the benefit from our qualifications and previous experience to get a job. Our challenges are local experience as requested by employers without giving the opportunity for us to practice that.

— A former Syrian engineer from Fairfield LGA

An overwhelming number of those surveyed suggested that they needed more training and local work experience to upskill and equip themselves for skilled jobs that they have had previous qualifications for. Most considered the lack of Australian work experience and professional referees or links as a major barrier in securing their first job in Australia, regardless of how extensive their overseas work experience has been.

I was with Jobactive for 4 years … I wanted an IT job as I have overseas qualifications and experience in IT as well as Australian recognition, but they did not help. I wanted them to help me get local work experience and to do reverse marketing so I can go for job interviews with employers that do IT software development. I have all the job seeking needs; a good resume, overseas recognised qualifications and experience, but I only need 3 weeks of local Australian work experience in IT web design as I completed a diploma with TAFE, but they [Jobactive] refused to help me. So, I went back to study at TAFE and changed to Austudy so I didn’t need to go to Jobactive. NowI am looking for work experience in IT after 3 years [and] I am hoping to get a placement.

— A former Syrian engineer from Fairfield LGA

An ideal model in terms of employment outcomes is where work experience placements provide an opportunity for jobseekers to demonstrate their aptitude within a workplace with a clear pathway or possibility of transitioning into an ongoing position at the end of the placement.

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