Over 620,000 highly qualified migrant workers underutilised and overlooked in Australia’s job market

Recent migrants are 1.7 times more likely to hold university-level qualifications compared to their Australian-born counterparts.

A new report suggests that Australia’s economy stands to benefit significantly from maximising the skills of migrant workers already residing in the country.

Research conducted by non-profit organisation SSI reveals that over 620,000 migrant workers in Australia are unable to fully utilise their skills, despite often possessing higher qualifications than their Australian-born counterparts.

The study, titled “Billion Dollar Benefit: The economic impact of unlocking the skills potential of migrants in Australia,” undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics, highlights that nearly half (44%) of migrants and refugees are currently employed in roles below their skill levels.

- Advertisement -

This first ot its kind report in Australia quantifies the potential economic impact of aligning migrant professionals’ skills with their jobs, akin to Australian-born workers. It expands on previous research by assessing the state-level economic impacts and national wage implications of skill mismatches among migrants.

This underutilisation represents a substantial economic opportunity lost as the report estimates that aligning migrant workers’ jobs with their skill levels could inject an impressive $70 billion into the Australian economy over the next decade.

This initiative would also create approximately 51,000 full-time jobs, elevate wages across the board, and bolster productivity in key sectors such as construction, manufacturing, trade, and financial services.

According to the research findings, recent migrants are 1.7 times more likely to hold university-level qualifications compared to their Australian-born counterparts. However, they collectively earn $3.9 billion less annually than they would if employed at their skill levels.

Industries set to gain the most from better utilisation of migrant skills include professional services, public administration, and education, alongside notable productivity gains in construction and manufacturing.

The economic benefits of optimising migrant skills would extend nationwide, with significant impacts projected for states such as New South Wales (anticipated gains of $2.5 billion and 12,357 jobs), Victoria ($2.2 billion and 12,351 jobs), Queensland ($1.8 billion and 9,706 jobs), and Western Australia ($1 billion and 4,148 jobs).

- Advertisement -

The report explores the broader benefits of maximising migrant skills, encompassing productivity gains, increased employment, enhanced wages, and impacts on various industries and economies across states and nationally. It also highlights disparities in skill utilisation, particularly affecting migrant women, individuals from non-OECD countries, secondary applicants, and humanitarian entrants.

The study received funding from SSI, Allianz Australia, LinkedIn, Business NSW, and Business Western Sydney to delve into the nationwide economic implications of optimising the skills of migrant professionals, contributing to the Billion Dollar Benefit initiative, focused on eliminating employment obstacles for refugees and migrants.

Support Our Journalism

‘Global Indian Diaspora and Australia’s multicultural communities need fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon and support honest and fearless journalism.