Continuous survey of Australia's migrants: cohort 1 report – August 2014

15 Aug 2014

This study of almost nine thousand recent migrants examines their labour market integration.

Executive summary

Between October and December 2013, almost nine thousand recent migrants participated in the first Continuous Survey of Australia’s Migrants (CSAM) since 2011. This cohort – known as CSAM Cohort 1 – comprised Skill Stream Primary Applicants and their Migrating Unit Spouses plus Partner Migrants who arrived in Australia, or received a permanent or provisional visa onshore around six months earlier.

In this report we look at the outcomes of CSAM Cohort 1 at this six-month stage of settlement, focusing on their labour market integration. Future reports will show how these outcomes change in the ensuing 12 months and will describe the early outcomes of newer migrant cohorts.

The key finding of this report was that Skill Stream Primary Applicants achieved good employment outcomes at the six-month stage of settlement. This included a moderate unemployment rate of 5.7 per cent, a very high participation rate of 95.6 per cent, high income levels and high rates of employment in highly-skilled and full-time work. Skill Stream Primary Applicants outperformed the general population on most of these measures.

Employment outcomes (particularly the unemployment rate) of Migrating Unit Spouses and Partner Migrants were generally not as good. This is not unexpected, given that these migrants were not selected for migration on the basis of their employment prospects. However, what is encouraging is a participation rate for these groups that is substantially higher than the general Australian population, and indicative of an interest in finding work.

Among Skill Stream Primary Applicants, Employer Sponsored migrants achieved the best employment outcomes – just a 1 per cent unemployment rate, with almost all working full-time in skilled work. Onshore Independent migrants and State/Territory Nominated migrants also achieved positive employment outcomes, albeit to a lesser extent.

Employed Skill Stream Primary Applicants were most likely to be working in Professional fields – that is, in jobs requiring at least a Bachelor’s degree – and in the Health care and social assistance industry. Their likelihood of professional employment was about twice that of the Australian workforce. There was also strong alignment with existing skills, with the majority working in their nominated field, or in a field with a similar or higher skill level.

Skill Stream Primary Applicants were also well-educated – nine-in-ten had at least one post-school qualification – with over half having an Australian qualification and three-quarters holding a qualification from overseas. Bachelor degrees, followed by Master degrees, were the most popular qualifications obtained by skilled migrants. The field of study for qualifications were largely consistent with the most common occupations of migrants, which shows most skilled migrants are utilising their skills in Australia.

Consistent with these outcomes, Skill Stream Primary Applicants were, on average, employed for longer and held more jobs in the previous 12 months compared to other migrant categories.

More than eight-in-ten migrants were from countries where English was not the main language spoken. Despite this, almost nine-in-ten migrants reported high levels of spoken English – an important pre-requisite to finding work.

Skill Stream Primary Applicants migrated to Australia mostly to improve their future for themselves and their family or for economic opportunities. As expected, Partner Migrants migrated to join family in Australia. Consistent with this different focus, Migrating Unit Spouses and Partner Migrants were more likely to have provided unpaid care and assistance for family members and children.

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