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Better migrant job matching could boost Australian economy by $6 billion annually

Sydney pedestrians

New research has found that addressing the mismatch between the skills of migrants and the jobs they currently work in, could boost the Australian economy by six billion dollars a year. The economic modelling by Curtin University found only 60 per cent of migrants from non-English speaking backgrounds are working in jobs for which they are well-matched.

Economists at Curtin University used data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey to calculate the size of the skills mismatch involving migrants.

The survey collects household-based data on 17,000 Australians each year since 2001.

Researchers concluded that only 60 per cent of migrants from a non-English speaking background are working in jobs well-matched with their skills and educational qualifications.

The report found 48 per cent of immigrants from non-English speaking countries had a tertiary degree, compared to 33 per cent of Australian-born citizens.

Author Professor Alan Duncan says there is a huge untapped potential.

The report also found an increase of one percentage point in the share of migrants within an industry leads to a rise in real wages for Australian-born workers -- by 2.4 percentage points.

Professor Duncan explains how it does this:

The Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia has welcomed the findings.

The group's CEO, Mohammad Al-Khafaji, says he hopes governments and employers take action to tap into the unrealised potential of migrants.

The report found that compared to Australian-born workers, the wages of migrants from non-English backgrounds were typically 5.5 per cent lower.

English language proficiency accounted for a very small fraction of the lower wage, pointing to more systemic issues.

Mr Al-Khafaji says that is not surprising.

Matt Kunkel, from the Migrant Workers Centre in Victoria, says the visa system is a big reason why there is a skills mismatch.

FECCA CEO Mohammad Al-Khafaji says if left unaddressed, the skills mismatch could see the best and brightest head back overseas.

Listen to the feature in Bangla in the audio player above.

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