Skilled migrants more productive but stressed

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Thursday, 28 Oct 2010

For immediate release Thursday 28 October 2010
Skilled migrants more productive but stressed

Changes to welfare policy and selection criteria for skilled migration have led to selection of immigrants with better potential to succeed in the labour market but poorer psychological wellbeing, the Monash University-ACER Centre for the Economics of Education and Training (CEET)  2010 Annual Conference will hear tomorrow.

CEET Research Fellow, Dr Weiping Kostenko, will discuss the effects of changed migration policy on assimilation of Australian skilled migrants by comparing employment and mental health outcomes of immigrants arriving in Australia four years prior to the 1997 government-initiated major review of skilled migration with immigrants arriving two years after the review.

“Successful assimilation is often measured in terms of whether immigrants are able to appropriately use the skills they have brought with them and are making a contribution to the Australian economy,” Dr Kostenko said, speaking ahead of the conference.

“However, it should also take into account immigrants' wellbeing post migration, as mental health issues among immigrants have ramifications for social and public health.”

Dr Kostenko will present findings from a study of 1993 and 1999 Australian immigrants that suggest;

  • Immigrants from the 1999 group are less likely to be unemployed or downshift to an unskilled job than those from the 1993 group.
  • The 1999 group have higher pressure to work. This pressure is particularly significant for those who have less personal financial resources.
  • Even though the overall mental health outcomes are better for the 1999 than the 1993 group, immigrants from the 1999 group are more mentally vulnerable to skill-mismatch.
  • Unlike the non-Western immigrants in the 1993 group, who catch up with their Western counterparts in both employment and mental health outcomes over time, those in the 1999 group make progress in employment, but not in mental health.
  • Among the 1999 group, those who anticipate a poor employment outlook are more likely to leave the labour force, possibly for further training.

Dr Kostenko said while changes to migrant selection criteria have improved the employment potential for the 1999 immigrants, the extension of the waiting period for welfare entitlement means the 1999 group faces greater risks and higher costs of migration.

“Thus, it is more likely that only those who had higher innate ability chose to migrate,” Dr Kostenko said.

The CEET Annual Conference 2010, ‘Education and training for a more productive Australia’, takes place in Melbourne on Friday 29 October at Ascot House, 50 Fenton St, Ascot Vale. 


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