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Is unpaid work experience worth it for new migrants and students in Australia?

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New migrants and international students who are seeking jobs in their own fields are often told to go for unpaid work or internship in other fields to gain experience in Australia.

Most Australians undertake unpaid work experience as part of their education or training.

A new report funded by the Commonwealth Department of Employment has highlighted how people from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have those opportunities.

Usman W. Chohan, a Canberra-based policy expert, says that often people aged 18-64 who live in capital cities go for such unpaid work experience.

 

Usman Chohan
Usman Chohan
Usman Chohan

 

Such unpaid work experience can be in a wide range of professional, intermediate and entry-level roles across many businesses and industries in Australia.

New migrants and international students who are seeking jobs in their own fields are often told to go for unpaid work or internship in other fields to gain experience in Australia.

Usman says this unpaid internships or placements often lead to exploitation such as breach of minimum wages and overwork.

 However, Usman points that if unpaid work experience is taken in your own field benefits may include increased workplace exposure, developing skills and knowledge, improving employment prospects, and improving job network.

As a suggestion, Usman adds that the Australian governments, at both federal and state levels, should work together with international students and new migrants to create cohesion among its various departments – particularly education, migration and employment.

The policy should include skills training and access to paid internships in their own fields for job seekers.

This, according to Usman, will help in bridging the socio-economic gap for access to unpaid work experience in Australia.

To know more about the reasons, benefits and costs associated with unpaid work experience in Australia, listen to Amit Sarwal’s conversation with Canberra-based policy expert Usman W. Chohan.