Immigrant story: qualifications are never enough

April 7th, 2008 - 1:38 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, April 7 (IANS) The immigrant story is not all that rosy, especially for those in the highly skilled category. And the culprit most often is simple prejudice. A new study in New Zealand - the new Mecca for Indians headed abroad - has found that well-qualified and educated immigrants find it hard to find any job - much less in their professions.

In fact, the study by Massey University researchers found that only a small number found jobs that matched their qualifications and many remained unemployed or had accepted unskilled work.

The reasons: poor language skills, strange accents, ethnicity, skin colour, prejudice, lack of cultural understanding and an absence of support from recruitment and government agencies.

The study also raised the question of whether recruitment consultants really help immigrants with professional qualifications. Many immigrants said they had difficulty getting recruitment consultants to refer them for jobs.

As part of the study, the researchers conducted interviews with 23 immigrants, five recruitment consultants and two immigrant settlement agencies.

All the immigrants had bachelors’ degrees and 50 percent had postgraduate qualifications. Occupations held in their countries of origin included accountant, manager, diplomat, economist, journalist, judge, lawyer, marketing director, psychologist and schoolteacher.

They put their struggle to find work in New Zealand down to “conservative attitudes” of New Zealanders when it comes to employing people from different countries and cultures.

Being underemployed or unemployed takes a toll of the immigrants, leading to loss of income, self-esteem and confidence. It also resulted in the breakdown of three marriages.

The study noted that skilled immigrants were a potential asset to employers because of the fresh perspective and experience they brought to the country, but employers and recruiters apparently do not recognise their value.

The study concluded that there was a need to educate those running recruitment agencies, employers as well as government agencies dealing with immigrants.

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