Following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, International students are flooding back to Australian universities.
This is great news for universities as well as Australian employers as the government plans to boost the labour market by allowing more International students stay longer and join the workforce following graduation.
International students with bachelors degrees could stay for four years, up from two, to “strengthen the pipeline of skilled labour”, particularly likely to include graduates in healthcare, teaching, hospitality and accounting
A study by theconversation.com identified four key reasons why getting more skilled international graduates into jobs needs more than just a visa extension.
1. Not all graduates secure a job
Up to one-third of international graduates who stay in Australia post-study are still unemployed six months after graduating. This is the case even with historically low unemployment rates.
Full-time employment rates for international graduates are also consistently lower than for domestic graduates. For example, in 2021, the full-time employment rate for international graduates with an undergraduate degree was 43.0% compared with 68.9% for domestic graduates.
Many international students are self-funded and report feeling stressed and under pressure to financially support themselves and their families due to the increased cost-of-living.
2. Or if they do find a job, it pays less
Finding well-paying employment in occupations related to a student’s field of study also takes time.
Many students and graduates report they are taking jobs that are not related to what they have studied, often for low wages.
Studiesalso show that even if international students with an undergraduate degree find full-time employment, they earn 20% less than domestic graduates.
3. There are not enough work experience
Another reason it is difficult for international students to get a job after graduating is the limited opportunity to work while they study.
Due to COVID and the push towards more online learning, work placements or internships have become scarce. In 2022, many universities have begun to offer internships again, but some students completed their studies without practical workplace experience.
Very few international students have local networks to draw on for job opportunities. They also tend to be less familiar with Australian workplace contexts and cultures and rely on internships to get the experience they need to secure an ongoing job.
4. Employers are hesitant
A 2020 Deakin University report found employers were hesitant to hire international graduates on temporary visas. Other research also shows employers favour those with permanent residency because they see them as more likely to stay in Australia, and worth the investment in recruiting and training.
Research has also found employers think international graduates will be more expensive to hire, and they would require more on-the-job training to be able to understand Australian workplace cultures.