Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2006  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/01/2006   
   Page tools: Print Print Page RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product

LABOUR FORCE STATUS OF MIGRANTS

Net overseas migration contributes about half of Australia's population growth each year. Given current skills shortages in Australia and the ageing labour force, Australia's migration policies now have a strong emphasis on the intake of skilled migrants. There is interest in the characteristics of migrants (such as their age, educational qualifications and English skills) and in whether migrants are doing work that requires lower levels of skills than work they were doing prior to their migration, as well as in whether migrants are using qualifications obtained before their arrival in Australia. This article looks at the labour force status of migrants as well as other characteristics such as their educational qualifications and level of English proficiency.

In this article, a migrant is defined as a person who was born overseas, arrived in Australia after 1984, was aged 15 years or over on arrival, and had obtained permanent resident status prior to or after their arrival. In November 2004 there were 1.4 million migrants in Australia (table 6.40). This represents 9% of the civilian population aged 15 years and over.

Overall, 54% of migrants were women. The labour force participation was higher for male migrants (83.9%) than female migrants (58.6%), while the unemployment rate was lower for male migrants (5.1%) than female migrants (6.2%).

6.40 EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF MIGRANTS - November 2004

Employed
Unem-
ployed
Labour
force
Not in
the
labour
force
Total
Partic-
ipation
rate
Unem-
ployment
rate

Full time
Part time
Total
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%
%

Males
436.6
61.1
497.7
26.9
524.6
100.6
625.3
83.9
5.1
Females
264.3
141.3
405.6
26.8
432.3
305.0
737.3
58.6
6.2
Persons
700.9
202.3
903.2
53.7
956.9
405.7
1,362.6
70.2
5.6

Source: Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants, Australia, November 2004 (6250.0).


Table 6.41 shows the participation rate was higher for migrants (70.2%) than for people born in Australia (67.3%). Unemployment rates were also slightly higher for migrants (5.6%) than for people born in Australia (4.9%).


Migrants aged 35-54 had the highest participation rate (78.0%). In contrast, participation rates for people born in Australia were highest in the 20-24 and 25-34 year age groups (83.6% and 83.3% respectively), although participation rates in the 35-44 and 45-54 year age groups were only slightly lower. The unemployment rate was highest in the 15-19 and 20-24 year age groups for both migrants and people born in Australia.

6.41 MIGRANTS AND PEOPLE BORN IN AUSTRALIA, By age group - November 2004

Migrants
People born in Australia


Participation rate
Unemployment rate
Participation rate
Unemployment rate
Age group (years)
%
%
%
%

15-19
51.5
*15.1
60.7
13.9
20-24
69.2
13.7
83.6
7.5
25-34
75.5
5.7
83.3
3.9
35-44
78.0
5.3
82.6
3.7
45-54
78.0
4.7
83.1
2.7
55-59
67.9
*2.7
65.0
2.7
60-64
34.9
*9.4
43.6
4.0
65 and over
*5.2
-
8.4
**0.3
Total
70.2
5.6
67.3
4.9

Source: ABS data available on request, Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants Survey.


Most (87%) employed migrants were employees, followed by own account workers (9%), employers (3%), and contributing family workers (less than 1%).


OCCUPATION

Overall, 877,700 migrants had held a job just before their arrival in Australia, with one-third (33%) indicating that their current occupation was the same as that held before migration (table 6.42). Professionals were most likely to continue in the same occupation after their arrival (44%), followed by tradespersons and related workers (42%) and intermediate production and transport workers (36%). A further 241,500 migrants who were employed in November 2004 were not employed just before their arrival in Australia.

6.42 MIGRANTS, Whether occupation before arrival was same as occupation as at November 2004

Had a job just before arrival

Same occupation major group
Changed occupation major group
Total(a)
Did not have
a job just
before arrival
Total
Changed major occupation group
Labour force status/ASCO Major group
'000
'000
'000
'000
'000
%

Employed
Managers and administrators
21.5
43.6
65.1
11.4
76.5
67.0
Professionals
119.3
48.3
167.6
49.2
216.8
28.8
Associate professionals
23.7
54.9
78.6
24.1
102.7
69.8
Tradespersons and related workers
51.8
30.6
82.4
19.1
101.5
37.1
Advanced clerical and service workers
5.5
10.6
16.1
9.5
25.6
66.0
Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers
35.3
58.5
93.7
44.5
138.2
62.4
Intermediate production and transport workers
17.0
42.4
59.3
23.4
82.7
71.4
Elementary clerical, sales and service workers
7.1
29.1
36.2
25.7
61.9
80.4
Labourers and related workers
10.0
52.8
62.8
34.5
97.3
84.1
Total
291.0
370.8
661.8
241.5
903.2
56.0
Unemployed
. .
. .
33.8
19.9
53.7
. .
Not in the labour force
. .
. .
182.2
223.5
405.7
. .
Total
291.0
370.8
877.7
484.9
1,362.6
42.2

(a) Includes people who were 'Unemployed' and 'Not in the labour force' as at November 2004 but had a job just before arrival.

Source: Labour Force Status and Other Characteristics of Migrants, Australia, November 2004 (6250.0).


QUALIFICATIONS

Almost half (49%) of migrants arrived in Australia with a non-school qualification (graph 6.43). Of these, 57% had a bachelor degree or above, 16% arrived with a diploma or an advanced diploma and 26% arrived with a certificate qualification.(End note 1)

Migrants with overseas bachelor degrees or higher were more likely to have their qualification recognised than those holding diplomas or certificates. Over three-fifths (61%) of migrants with an overseas bachelor degree or above as their highest non-school qualification had it recognised, compared with 37% of those with a diploma or advanced diploma, and 49% of those with certificate level qualifications.

Graph 6.43: WHETHER HIGHEST OVERSEAS NON-SCHOOL QUALIFICATION IS RECOGNISED IN AUSTRALIA - November 2004



Migrants from Oceania who arrived with overseas non-school qualifications were the most likely to have their qualification recognised in Australia (66%) and migrants from North-East Asia were the least likely (35%).

LANGUAGE

About half (53%) of migrants mainly spoke English at home, even though over two-thirds (68%) of migrants were born outside of the main English-speaking countries. Of those migrants who spoke another language at home, 24% spoke English very well, 37% spoke English well, 32% did not speak English well, and the remaining 7% did not speak English at all.

Of migrants who mainly spoke a language other than English at home, young migrants tended to have a higher level of English proficiency, with 80% of 15-24 year olds reporting that they spoke English well or very well (graph 6.44). English proficiency decreased with age, with 72% of 25-34 year olds reporting that they spoke English well or very well, followed by 69% of 35-44 year olds and 57% of 45-54 year olds. Migrants over the age of 55 years reported a lower level of English proficiency, with 70% not speaking English well or not speaking English at all.

Graph 6.44: ENGLISH PROFICIENCY(a), By age - November 2004



Over three-quarters (77%) of employed migrants who spoke a language other than English at home, spoke English well or very well, compared to two-thirds (66%) of unemployed migrants and 36% of those not in the labour force.

End notes

1. The remaining 1% possessed a qualification that could not be defined.<Back

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.