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6105.0 - Australian Labour Market Statistics, Jan 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 06/01/2006   
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LABOUR OUTCOMES OF MIGRANTS


INTRODUCTION

Migration is necessary for Australia's future population growth. While natural increase (the excess of births over deaths) was the main source of population growth through most of the 20th century, net overseas migration now contributes about half of Australia's population growth.(end note 1) With fertility at below replacement level, net overseas migration is expected to become Australia's main source of population growth during the 21st century.


This article presents data from the Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants survey, which was conducted as a supplement to the Labour Force Survey in November 2004. For this survey, data were collected for people who were born overseas, arrived in Australia after 1984, were aged 15 years or over on arrival, and had obtained permanent resident status prior to, or after, their arrival. The article examines various characteristics of these migrants, including their proficiency in English and educational qualifications, and looks at how these relate to their labour force outcomes in Australia.


It should be noted that the focus of the Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants survey is on labour-related information about migrants, such as their employment, unemployment and participation rates. The survey is not designed to provide good estimates of the number of people arriving on different visa types. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs is a better source of information on the numbers of people arriving under each stream.



MIGRANT PROGRAMS

Planned permanent immigration to Australia is administered through the Migration Program and the Humanitarian Program. These two programs regulate the flow of people seeking permanent residence in Australia. While New Zealand citizens may apply for permanent residency through either of these two programs, the 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement allows them to enter Australia to visit, live and work without seeking a visa. In the main, they need only apply for permanent residency in Australia if they wish to access certain social security payments, obtain Australian Citizenship, or sponsor non-New Zealander family members for permanent residency.


The Migration Program has two main streams: a Skill Stream and a Family Stream. Information from the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs indicates that the Migration Program for 2005-06 will be in the range of 130,000 to 140,000 people, of which 97,500 are expected to be under the Skill Stream. The Skill Stream is specifically designed to target migrants who have skills or outstanding abilities that will contribute to the Australian economy. Migrants who come to Australia under the Skill Stream generally have previous work experience, non-school educational qualifications and are proficient in English. The 2005-06 intake will be the largest ever under the Skill Stream and will account for approximately 70% of migrants to Australia in 2005-06. Family Stream entrants are selected on the basis of their family relationship with their Australian sponsor. These people are not subject to tests for skills or English proficiency.


The Humanitarian Program is designed to ensure visas are granted to those with strong humanitarian claims and in compelling need of resettlement. They are not selected on the basis of attributes (e.g. English proficiency and educational qualifications) that prepare them to become fully engaged in the Australian labour market in the short term. In addition they may not have social and family support networks in Australia. Humanitarian entrants often need government assistance to rebuild their lives in Australia and to become self-sufficient and fully participating members of the community. Care needs to be taken when comparing their settlement experiences with those of other migrants especially in terms of labour market outcomes.


As shown in graph 1, there has been a significant shift in the focus of the Migration Program over the last ten years. Of particular interest is the increasing intake of Skill Stream migrants since 1997-98. By comparison, the number of Family Stream migrants has remained relatively stable during this period. This reflects the need for skilled labour in Australia. The number of humanitarian entrants has remained relatively constant over the last 20 years.

1. Migration Program Outcomes
Graph: Migration program outcomes



While this article (using estimates from the Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants survey) provides a general overview of migrants who arrived in Australia after 1984 (an estimated 1.4 million migrants), it focuses largely on those migrants who arrived in Australia between 1999 and 2004 (an estimated 422,000 migrants). As shown in graph 1, this is the period in which the number of Skill Stream migrants surpassed the intake of Family Stream migrants by increasingly large numbers. With the shift in focus of the Migration Program, it is likely that characteristics such as English proficiency and educational attainment of the recently arrived migrants would be very different to those of earlier arrivals. Skill Stream migration eligibility is assessed through recognition of particular skills. Some of these skills, such as proficiency in spoken English, are examined in this article in the context of labour force outcomes.



OVERVIEW

In November 2004, the civilian population of Australia (aged 15 years and over) was 15.7 million people. Almost three-quarters (72% or 11.4 million people) of this population was born in Australia (see table 2). Migrants, as defined in this survey, accounted for 9% (1.4 million people) and just over half of them were women (54% or 737,000). The 422,000 migrants who arrived between 1999 and 2004 made up 31% of all migrants.

2. Overview

Males
Females
Persons
'000
'000
'000

Civilian population aged 15 years and over
7 749.5
7 995.7
15 745.2
Australia born
5 598.5
5 804.1
11 402.6
Other overseas born(a)
1 525.7
1 454.2
2 980.0
Migrants(b)
625.3
737.3
1 362.6
Arrived between 1999-2004
191.3
230.3
421.6

(a) People who arrived in Australia before 1985; people who arrived after 1984 and were aged less than 15 years on arrival; and people who arrived after 1984 and were aged 15 years and over on arrival and were either temporary residents who had planned to stay in Australia for 12 months or more, or those whose status was not able to be determined.
(b) People who were born overseas, who arrived in Australia after 1984, were aged 15 years and over on arrival, and had obtained permanent Australian resident status prior to or after their arrival.
Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Survey.



AGE AND SEX OF MIGRANTS

The Australian population is ageing due to declining fertility and increases in life expectancy. The proportion of people aged 65 and over is expected to more than double over the next few decades, with one quarter of Australians expected to be aged 65 years or more by 2044-45. (end note 2) An ageing population contributes to a reduction in labour supply growth, as labour participation rates fall significantly for those people aged over 55 years. Skill Stream applicants are generally required to be under 45 years of age at the time they apply to come to Australia. In addition, New Zealand citizens who come to Australia to live tend to be concentrated in the young adult age groups. These types of migration are particularly important for the labour market as they help to ensure growth in the working age portion of the Australian population.


As can be seen in graph 3, the migrants referred to in this article tended to be concentrated in the 25 to 54 years age groups in November 2004. There are two factors that contribute to this. The first is that the data presented in this article (with the exception of the data in graph 1) are from the Labour Force and Other Characteristics of Migrants survey. The fact that the survey is restricted to those who arrived after 1984 (aged 15 years or over on arrival) will limit the numbers in the older age groups. Graph 3 shows the age and sex structure of the people we are looking at in this article, but a population pyramid showing the total overseas born people would give a different picture. For example, there are more overseas born people in the 65+ age group than there are Australia born due to the large waves of post war migration. The second factor influencing the concentration of migrants in the 25 to 54 years age group is the age criterion that is used to select skilled migrants and the age of most spouses sponsored under the Family Stream.

3. AGE DISTRIBUTION, Migrants(a) and Australia born people aged 15 years and over - November 2004
Diagram: 3.  AGE DISTRIBUTION, Migrants(a) and Australia born people aged 15 years and over—November 2004




LABOUR FORCE STATUS

The labour force participation rate of migrants who arrived between 1999 and 2004 was 71.4%. Of these 65% were employed (276,000 people), 29% were not in the labour force (121,000 people) and 6% were unemployed (25,000 people).


Year of arrival

The longer migrants have lived in Australia, the more likely they are to be employed (see graph 4). For example, the employment to population ratio for skilled migrants who arrived between 1985 and 1989 (82%) was higher than for those who arrived between 2000 and 2004 (72%). (end note 3) Migrants who have been in Australia for longer periods are likely to have developed better knowledge of the labour market and better local contacts than recently arrived migrants. Principal applicant migrants in the Skill Stream already have a high level of English proficiency on arrival and other migrants are likely to have developed their English proficiency over time. They may also have obtained educational qualifications within Australia which helps them to gain employment.

4. Employment to Population ratio of Migrants, By visa type on most recent arrival to live in Australia - November 2004
Graph: Employment to population ratio of migrants, by visa type on most recent arrival to live in Australia - November 2004



Country of birth

Of the 422,000 migrants who arrived in Australia between 1999 and 2004, 162,000 (38%) were born in a Main English Speaking Country (MESC).(end note 4) There were 260,000 migrants (62%) who were born in countries where English is not the main language spoken. Most of these arrived on temporary visas (30%), (end note 5) under the Family Stream (27%) or the Skill Stream (19%). All of the humanitarian entrants were born in countries where English is not the main language spoken.


Migrants born in Main English Speaking Countries had an unemployment rate of 4.5% at November 2004, which was lower than the unemployment rate of Australia born people (4.9%). New Zealand citizens who arrived after 1999 who were born in New Zealand or other Main English Speaking Countries also had an unemployment rate of 4.5% at November 2004. By comparison, the unemployment rate of migrants born in countries where English is not the main language spoken was 11.5%.


Proficiency in English

It is a requirement that Skill Stream principal applicants are proficient in English. About 92% of migrants from Non-Main English Speaking Countries (NMESC) who arrived in Australia under the Skill Stream between 1999 and 2004 reported that they could speak English well or very well, or that only English was mainly spoken at home. There is no requirement for migrants who arrived under the Family Stream or the Humanitarian Program to be proficient in English. Over two-thirds (69%) of migrants who arrived under the Family Stream, and 43% of those who arrived as part of the Humanitarian Program, reported that they could speak English well or very well, or that only English was mainly spoken at home, in November 2004.


Migrants who speak English well or very well, or who mainly speak English at home, were much more likely to participate in the labour force (78%) than those with poorer English skills (who had a labour force participation rate of 35%).



OCCUPATION AND INDUSTRY

There were about 285,000 migrants who arrived between 1999 and 2004 who had been employed in the country they lived in prior to migrating to Australia. Of these, 216,000 were employed at the time of the survey in November 2004 and close to one in five (19%) were no longer in the labour force. Of the 137,000 migrants who did not have a job just prior to migrating to Australia, 44% were employed at November 2004.


For the purposes of this article, occupation groups have been grouped into three broad categories: 'highly skilled' (comprising Managers and administrators, Professionals, Associate professionals, Tradespersons and related workers and Advanced clerical and service workers), 'intermediate skilled' (Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers and Intermediate production and transport workers) and 'elementary skilled' (Elementary clerical, sales and service workers and Labourers and related workers). (end note 6)


Of the 216,000 migrants who arrived between 1999 and 2004 and who were employed at November 2004 and employed before arrival, 151,000 had been in highly skilled occupations just before arriving in Australia, and most of these were in highly skilled occupations at November 2004. In November 2004, 74% (112,000) of these migrants were employed in highly skilled occupations, 13% (19,000) were in intermediate skilled occupations and 13% (20,000) had moved to elementary skilled occupations. There were 47,000 migrants who had been working in intermediate skilled occupations before migrating to Australia, and 51% (24,000) of these were in intermediate skilled occupations at November 2004, while 32% (15,000) had moved to highly skilled occupations and 17% (8,000) had moved to elementary skilled occupations. Of the 19,000 migrants who were in elementary skilled occupations before arriving in Australia, 39% (7,000) continued to be in elementary skilled occupations at November 2004 while another 39% were employed in highly skilled occupations.

5. Occupation before arrival compared to current occupation, Migrants who arrived between - 1999-2004(a)

Occupation just before arrival
Current occupation
Highly skilled(b)
Intermediate skilled(c)
Elementary skilled(d)

Highly skilled(b) (%)
74.1
31.8
38.8
Intermediate skilled(c) (%)
12.9
50.9
*21.8
Elementary skilled(d) (%)
13.0
17.3
39.3
Total (%)
100.0
100.0
100.0
Total ('000)
150.7
47.1
18.5

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Who were employed before arrival and employed at November 2004.
(b) Comprises Managers and administrators, Professionals, Associate professionals, Tradespersons and related workers and Advanced clerical and service workers.
(c) Comprises Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers and Intermediate production and transport workers.
(d) Comprises Elementary clerical, sales and service workers and Labourers and related workers.
Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Survey.


The selection criteria for potential Skill Stream applicants recognises a range of skill related factors. Applicants receive additional points if their occupation is listed on the Migration Occupations in Demand List. This list is modified from time to time in an effort to allow Australian employers to meet labour market shortages in particular areas. The migration occupation groups which the Australian Government has identified as being in demand over the last few years are Professionals (particularly health professionals), Associate professionals (chefs is the only occupation currently listed as being in demand in this occupation group) and Tradespersons and related workers.


Professionals, Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers, and Tradespersons and related workers were the three most common occupation groups for both migrants and for Australia born people at November 2004 (see graph 6). The proportions employed in these three occupation groups were similar for both migrants and Australia born, with the exception of Professionals. About 26% of migrants were Professionals at November 2004, compared to about 18% of Australia born people. Migrants from the Main English Speaking Countries were the most likely to be Professionals. Migrants from Non-Main English Speaking Countries were more likely than other migrants or Australia born people to be in the occupations of Labourers and related workers, Elementary clerical, sales and service workers or Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers.

6. Occupations of Migrants who arrived from 1999 to 2004 compared to Australia Born People - November 2004
Graph: Occupations of migrants who arrived from 1999 to 2004 compared to Australian born people - November 2004



Of those migrants who were employed at November 2004 and had arrived since January 1999, 17% were employed in the Property and business services industry, 14% in Manufacturing, and 11% in both Retail trade and Health and community services. The industries in which the largest proportions of Australia born people were found were the same although the ordering was different. In November 2004, 16% of Australia born people worked in the Retail trade industry, followed by 11% in Property and business services and 10% in both Manufacturing and Health and Community Services.


There were about 16,000 migrants who had arrived between 1999 and 2004 and who had a job just before arrival, but were unemployed in November 2004. Conversely, there were almost 60,000 migrants who did not have a job just before arrival in Australia but were employed in November 2004.



SOURCE OF INCOME

Almost 70% of migrants who arrived under the Skill Stream between 1999 and 2004 derived their main source of income from wages or salary, compared to 37% of Family Stream migrants (see table 7). Wages or salary was the main source of income for about 30% of humanitarian entrants, most of whom were reliant on government pension or benefits (57%) for their main source of income.


The survey covers only those migrants who had obtained permanent resident status prior to, or after, their arrival. At November 2004, 7% of migrants who had arrived most recently on a temporary visa, but who had since obtained permanent resident status, cited government pensions and benefits as their main source of income. Entrants to Australia do not generally have access to social welfare or health care benefits while on a temporary visa.

7. MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED FROM 1999 TO 2004, Main source of income by type of visa on most recent arrival to live in Australia

Wages or salary
Government pension or benefit
Other income
Nil/Spouses income
Total
%
%
%
%
%

New Zealand citizen
72.2
8.3
7.6
11.9
100.0
Temporary visa
62.1
7.8
16.1
14.0
100.0
Permanent visa
48.7
15.3
12.1
23.9
100.0
Skilled
67.4
*5.2
15.0
12.4
100.0
Family
36.8
17.8
10.2
35.2
100.0
Humanitarian(a)
*29.9
57.2
* -
*12.9
100.0
Other
*42.4
*12.6
*23.3
*21.7
100.0
Status not determined
48.3
*18.5
22.2
*11.0
100.0
Total
57.7
11.8
12.7
17.7
100.0

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
(a) Includes 'Refugee'.
Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Survey.



EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATIONS

Of the 422,000 migrants, including New Zealand citizens, who arrived in Australia after 1999, 237,000 (56%) had obtained a non-school qualification before arrival (see table 8). Of these, 112,000 (47%) had a Bachelor Degree, 54,000 (23%) had a Certificate and 30,000 (13%) had an Advanced Diploma or Diploma.


There were 187,000 migrants in the labour force (i.e. either employed or unemployed) in November 2004 who arrived from 1999 to 2004 and had a non-school qualification before arriving in Australia. Of these, 100,000 (53%) were employed as Managers and administrators, Professionals, or Associate professionals. An additional 24,000 (13%) were employed as Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers, and 19,000 (10%) as Tradespersons and related workers.

8. MIGRANTS WHO ARRIVED FROM 1999 TO 2004, Occupation by highest non-school educational attainment before arrival

With a non-school qualification(a)
Without a non-school qualification(b)
Total
'000
'000
'000

Employed as at November 2004
172.8
103.0
275.8
Managers and administrators
16.4
*2.0
18.4
Professionals
64.4
8.5
72.9
Associate professionals
19.1
7.6
26.7
Tradespersons and related workers
18.9
12.2
31.1
Advanced clerical and service workers
*3.6
5.5
9.1
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
24.4
24.7
49.1
Intermediate production and transport workers
5.2
10.7
15.9
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
12.1
14.4
26.5
Labourers and related workers
8.6
17.4
26.0
Unemployed
14.7
10.4
25.1
Not in the Labour Force
49.8
70.9
120.7
Total
237.3
184.3
421.6

* estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution
(a) Includes 'Level not determined'.
(b) Includes those who were 'Still at school'.
Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Survey.


The unemployment rate of migrants who arrived with a non-school qualification was 7.8% in November 2004, compared to 9.2% for migrants who arrived without a non-school qualification.


Of the 237,000 migrants who had a non-school educational qualification before arriving in Australia, 97,000 (41%) said their qualification was not recognised in Australia. This group of migrants had an unemployment rate of 12.3% in November 2004, compared to 5.6% for migrants whose educational qualifications were recognised in Australia. Migrants who had their non-school education qualification recognised were more likely to either remain in the labour force or to gain employment. Of the 121,000 migrants with recognised non-school qualifications who had a job prior to arrival in Australia, 9% were not in the labour force at November 2004 compared to 29% (22,000 people) whose qualifications were not recognised and had a job prior (75,000 people). About four-fifths (79%) of migrants with recognised non-school qualifications who did not have a job prior to arrival were employed at November 2004, compared to 27% of those without recognised non-school qualifications.



FURTHER INFORMATION

For further information about the statistics on migrants in Australia, please contact Assistant Director on South Australia (08) 8237 7306.

For email enquiries, please contact Client Services on client.services@abs.gov.au.



END NOTES


1. Net overseas migration is the difference between the number of permanent (settler) and long-term arrivals and the number of permanent and long-term departures. < Back


2. Productivity Commission 2005, Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia, Research Report, Canberra. < Back


3. The employment to population ratio for any group within the population is the number of employed people of that group, expressed as a percentage of the total population (aged 15 years and over) in that group. < Back


4. Main English Speaking Countries comprises the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, United States of America and South Africa. < Back



5. A temporary visa is the permission or authority granted by Australia for foreign nationals to travel to Australia and stay up to a specified period of time. Temporary entrants include students and business people. < Back


6. See the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations, Second Edition (cat. no. 1220.0) for information about the skill levels required for different occupations. < Back


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