Negotiating the Labyrinth: Skilled Migrants Responses to the Job Search Dilemma
Australian immigration policy is primarily focused on filling identified skill shortages in the labour market. For migrants themselves, the expectation is that they will maintain or indeed improve their previous income, and provide for their family, by finding a relevant technical or professional job. However, many do not. This leads to both economic loss as well as the less tangible loss of both professional identity and social status. So how do migrants respond to the difficulties they face in gaining work? This paper presents results from a PhD research project that focuses on the job search experiences of skilled migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds. Twenty-two migrant women and men living in south-east Queensland were interviewed twice over a twelve-month period about their job search experiences. As predicted by previous studies, they face barriers such as language skills, lack of local work experience and problems with recognition of qualifications. The research’s particular contribution is in revealing how skilled migrants, by necessity, develop strategies to combat such ‘barriers’ in order to find employment. The presentation will discuss their strategies and whether they prove successful in negotiating the labour market ‘labyrinth’ or whether, despite these strategies, they continue to experience downward occupational mobility. In addition, using intersectionality theory, the presentation will explore how job search strategies differ for migrant women and men, and the reasons for and implications of this.
27th Association of Industrial Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand (AIRAANZ) Conference