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

Sydney pedestrians Source: AAP

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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