Refugee and migrant students less likely to secure full-time work after uni, new research shows

Refugee and migrant students less likely to secure full-time work after uni, new research shows

Refugee and migrant students less likely to secure full-time work after uni, new research shows

Updated 23 November 2017, 10:37 AEDT

Just 45 per cent of students born overseas will find full-time employment after finishing university, compared with 69 per cent of those born in Australia, according to new research.

Young refugees and migrants are less likely to secure full-time work than students born in Australia, according to new research.

A report by VicHealth, the CSIRO's Data61 group and the Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) shows just 45 per cent of students born overseas will find full-time employment after finishing university.

That compares with 69 per cent of Australian-born students.

National coordinator for MYAN, Nadine Liddy, said experts have identified several reasons for the discrepancy.

"Racial discrimination, lack of understanding of the job market and a lack of recognition of overseas skills and qualifications are the main reasons," she said.

"It's exposing young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to particularly precarious work conditions."

One in five Australians between the ages of 12 and 24 was born overseas and another 25 per cent had at least one parent born overseas.

The study revealed that young people whose parents were born overseas were more likely to be in tertiary education than those with parents born in Australia.

'I couldn't get a job'

Lorraine Ngwenya was a teenager when she moved to Australia from Zimbabwe with her parents.

She completed her schooling in Australia before going to university.

"At the end of my public health degree, I couldn't get a job," she said.

"That was the case for a good eight months, I was applying and just nothing, like literally stonewalling it."

Ms Ngwenya said one of the major barriers to securing work was getting the necessary experience.

"A lot of refugees and migrants who haven't grown up in Australia just don't have the social capital to have networks that connect them to people that give them experience," she said.

"Someone who has probably grown up here might know someone who knows someone."

Frustrated by the lack of opportunities, the 28-year-old eventually started her own business helping young people of all backgrounds gain the necessary skills and experience to get a job.

"Sometimes people might just assume that because my surname is foreign that maybe I don't speak English fluently," she said.

"Preconceived ideas like that frustrate me and need to be worked through."

Rise in racism

The research also indicates the incidence of racial discrimination has been increasing over the past decade, with cyber-racism a particular concern.

"Anecdotally we know that young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds face racism and discrimination daily," Ms Liddy said.

"We are concerned about this steady increase in racism and we know that it can have a really significant impact on the health and wellbeing of young people."

Those between the ages of 18 and 24 are most likely to be impacted by racism, despite the research suggesting young people are significantly more accepting of multiculturalism than older Australians.

Ms Ngwenya is hopeful that those from refugee and migrant backgrounds will not let discrimination distract them from their ambition to succeed in Australia.

"I'd like to hope that we wouldn't let our lives be driven by that," she said.

"There is room for people to see that refugees and migrants, just like everybody else, are valid people who have skills to offer to a workplace."