A significant but growing minority of Australia-educated international graduates show signs of economic disadvantage in the Australian workforce, despite their Australian qualifications. While these students have gained their degrees in Australia, my research shows they are less successful in finding work in their chosen profession relative to students from English-speaking countries and Australia-born graduates. The largest disadvantage occurs for students born in India and China who are aged in their 20s.
They face discrimination from employers who exclude considering them for roles, presuming that their English language skills are poor, or that their cultural differences would make them a poor organisational fit. This is not aligned with evidence showing that cultural diversity enriches workplaces.
Educators and employers must work together to address the prejudices these graduates face. International students contribute more than financial revenue to the Australian economy. They also represent an invaluable network of intercultural ambassadors with the potential to strengthen Australia’s multicultural learning and international relations.
The skills international graduates can bring include:
- Multiple education and work experiences across different societies, that might be used to expand corporate policies and practices
- Specialist knowledge of Australian and overseas markets
- Intercultural awareness, that would boost teamwork dynamics
- Empathy for diverse groups, that can be translated to enhanced customer relations
- Strong intergenerational experience, that can better inform stakeholder engagement
- International social and business networks that might be leveraged in establishing or expanding global business opportunities.
Can your workplace afford to miss out on the diverse talent and international networks of these overseas-born, Australian graduates?