How can employers help new migrants succeed at work?

In 2016-2017, Australia welcomed 262,489 new migrants which includes skilled migrants, students and humanitarian visa holders.

In 2017-2018, the Department of Home Affairs have planned for a total of 128,550 skilled migrants, and 57,400 persons to be welcomed under the family stream.

With the size of our population growing, so will our workforce.

Whilst there are some solid programs in place to help our new migrants with language classes and settling in to their new environment, the majority of employers are still pretty clueless on how they can make their workplace more inclusive and attentive to our newcomers’ needs.

This results in an uncohesive workforce and can seclude the new migrants in more ways than one.

Many new migrants coming from certain parts of Asia such as China, India and the Middle East find that they are not able to find jobs in their area of expertise even though they are highly skilled and qualified.

Majority of these highly skilled and qualified workers end up working in roles that their parents never wished for them. Many of them end up as cleaners and taxi drivers.

Whilst there are no definitive numbers reporting the qualifications of cleaners and taxi drivers, many people working in these roles whom I have met hold a Masters degree or a PhD degree from overseas.

Unfortunately, as they weren’t successful in attaining a role in their respective industries, they settled for any job they could find.

Why can’t they find jobs in their areas of expertise?

The main reason is confidence and their language disconnect. Many of our skilled migrants come from countries such as China, India and South America.

English is not their primary language, and whilst their English is better than most in their respective countries, they suffer from a complex when they arrive in Australia. This complex compounded with the stresses of settling in and wanting to shine in their interview, they aren’t usually successful in their job searches.

Additionally, many other candidates who would have interviewed for the same role would come off better because they would not be facing the same pressures as that of new migrants.

How can employers help their foreign-born employees to speak up?

According to a research published earlier in the year by scholars at Deakin and Wollongong universities found that there are two factors that predict the likelihood of employees being confident in expressing themselves at work – their personal level of cultural intelligence (also known as CQ) and the relationship migrant workers have with their immediate supervisor.

The researchers recommend cross-cultural training for all staff to help them understand each other better, to understand the challenges being faced by others in an effort to break down barriers between staff members.

The study also recommended for managers to have a high level of cultural intelligence, especially in small businesses, as they are more inclined to make an effort to build relationships with their employees, irrespective of where they were born, thereby cultivating a culture in which people feel safer voicing their thoughts. This in turn means an organisation which will run more efficiently and a team who works in cohesion.

Managers should also be undertaking constant professional development training to ensure they are equipped with skills and knowledge they need to manage the team and also the business well. Visit here to find courses that may suit your management team.

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