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Punjabis drive Australia, quite literally

Taxi drivers in Melbourne. Source: SBS Punjabi

The ABS data reveals the occupations Punjabi speakers are engaged in within Australia.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 'driving' is the most common job that Punjabi speakers in Australia are doing.

The data collected in the 2016 Census also shows the least common occupations that the Punjabi speaking Australian population is engaged in.

'Automobile driver' is the most common occupation with 6,925 people engaged in the job - highest in the CLAD communities - followed by truck driving and sales assistance with 3,447 and 2,959 people being employed in these two occupations respectively. 

SBS Punjabi

A large number of Punjabis are also engaged in work in food, hospitality and health and personal care industries. Ove four thousand Punjabi speakers were working as cooks and chefs while over 4,500 found employment in Nursing, aged and disability care.


The number of Punjabi speakers engaged in driving jobs is the highest among all the culturally and linguistically diverse communities, even though 34 per cent of the Punjabi speakers have a bachelor degree and over 21 per cent have a post graduate degree which is higher than 30 per cent and 9 per cent respectively in the general Australian population.  

Jimmy Behal

Jimmy Behl has been a taxi driver in Melbourne for the last over 17 years. Though he studied nursing and later worked as a factory worker, he chose to drive a taxi because it was easy for him to “get into it”.

“I was already driving a taxi while studying here, that’s because people I knew were also doing this and they helped me. When you come here [to Australia] from a different country, you do whatever gets you money,” he says. But Mr Behal says it’s important not to rely on just one income. “I have invested in trucks and I am also a subcontractor for NBN.”

Least common occupations
SBS Punjabi

Suman Dua’s company arranges internship and work experience opportunities for students and new migrants in Brisbane. She says most new migrants give up hope of getting employment in their field of education after the first few refusals.

“I see a lot of engineers, accountants and people with other great skills driving taxis and doing jobs that are not pertinent to their qualifications. That’s because getting the job in Australia is always difficult because the employer may not place a lot of weight on your overseas experience,” she says.

Ms Dua says volunteering and doing internships are a great way of gaining the local experience that most employers prefer in a prospective employee.

Among the least common occupations are Massage therapists (4), florists (7), safety inspectors (7), Economists (7), defence force members (15) and commissioned officers (8). 


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