Many Australians have not been keeping up with the shift in Australia’s economy away from manufacturing and resources toward a high skilled service economy that is diversified. Australia’s migration policies over the last 2 decades has helped fill this gap “enabling structural changes to unfold relatively seamlessly and supplying the human capital needed for the expansion of technology driven sectors,” noted the MCA paper.
This paper analysed the latest ABS statistical information to gain an in-depth picture of how Australia’s migration program is performing and provides an overview of the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of recent Australian immigrants.
It concluded that, “English language proﬁciency is the primary determinant for migrants in the labour market, more important than both work experience and formal qualiﬁcations…improving English language proﬁciency is the single most effective method to increase the economic beneﬁt [for new migrants]”.
It notes that migrants with low or no language proﬁciency have historically faced a 10–20 per cent earnings gap. In contrast, the paper notes that newer migrants with very good English proﬁciency are thriving in the labour market, outperforming even their native English peers who have been in Australia for decades.
The report warned that the gap between those who can and those who cannot speak English well is growing as the economy prioritises skilled work and high tech service industries and noted that due to both skills and English language ability, there is growing gender disparity with female migrants lagging well behind.
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