Immigrants miss out on Australia's best jobs

(dpa) - Immigrants from non-English speaking countries are finding that a university degree is not a passport to a well-paid job in Australia, a study released Tuesday showed.
Language difficulties relegate two-thirds of immigrants to jobs not commensurate with their qualifications, compared with less than half of those who arrive from English-language speaking countries, Monash University demographer Bob Birrell found.
"They're not contributing to the skilled workforce, but they're contributing to urban population growth and housing pressure," the Melbourne academic said.
Birrell called on the government to halt a skilled-migration programme that since 2001 has brought in 212,000 people and to focus spending on giving migrants already in Australia the language skills they need to impress employers.
Birrell found that a third of foreigners who graduate from Australian universities and use their degrees to gain permanent residency aren't landing jobs that match their qualifications because of their poor English and lack of job readiness.
He accused universities of lowering standards to ensure overseas students managed to get degrees.
Australia has 240,000 fee-paying foreign students. As a group they represent 15 per cent of the income of universities and one in five of students enrolled. India came in second behind China as a source country.
"The biggest problem is poor English and a lack of occupational experience," Birrell said. "It also raises questions about courses that are being reduced in demand and or complexity to cater for overseas-trained students."
He said the worst performance was in accountancy, where only a fraction of foreigners training in Australian universities were getting jobs as accountants.
"We are graduating large numbers of people whose English is well short of the standard that you would expect for a university graduate," he said. "It means that universities have got to ask themselves serious questions about what they're producing."

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