Instead of dismissing skilled migrants for what they don’t have, why don’t we hire them for what they do bring?

by K B , updated on June 2, 2016

36809013_sA few days ago I had a meeting with a client who had a background in finance and accounting and who had migrated to Australia.

He was from a non-English speaking country.

It’s been my experience that somewhat more so than other professions, accountants find it hard to get roles in Australia with “no local experience.”

They’re told that our taxation and superannuation rules are among the most complex in the world.

I have also heard that if you move from Australia to work in places like India, that you’ll also be told that “Indian taxation laws are the most complex in the world.”

I could talk about “what gives here?”

But that’s a whole other blog post.

My client had secured a role within a few months, and although the organisation was smaller compared to where he was working, he was in a role at about the same level as a management accountant.

We spoke about his experience with our laws.

He said he did not find them as challenging to learn as recruiters would make out, and that there was a lot more that he brought to the role, compared to where there was a deficit in his local knowledge.

All of this got me thinking that instead of focusing on what overseas job seekers do not have, and discriminating on them on the basis of what we perceive in a name, perhaps it would assist with talent shortages, if we asked them what they do bring.

To me most people who up sticks and settle in another country, when English is not their first language, demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • courage, to break from the familiar
  • resilience, being away from the usual support networks
  • flexibility and adaptability, to learn about how a new culture operates
  • the intelligence to learn another language
  • an abillty to pick new things up quickly
  • goal focus, to set and achieve a goal to get here

This is a short list, and things that spring to my mind as I write this late on a Wednesday evening.

However all of these skills are starting to look like employability skills that are being referenced by many of our major learning institutions, necessary as a pathway to employment.

To me they indicate that someone may have the right attitude and cultural fit, to make a big difference to a team really quickly.

We seem to second people for global experience valuing what it can bring back to Australia.

But when it comes to us, we see it differently.

What do you think?

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