Kezang Dema migrated to Australia from Bhutan with her two children last year and is now working in IT, an area in which she has a master’s degree and 11 years of experience. Although her job search was challenging and took more than six months, Kezang is considered one of the lucky ones to have found work in her field of expertise.
Research released this year shows despite many migrants having professional qualifications, a large proportion were unable to utilise their skills and abilities.
The survey from the University of Adelaide found 53 per cent of skilled migrants felt they were not making the most of their skills and abilities and 44 per cent were working in a job different to what they nominated in their visa application.
MercyCare’s Jobs and Skills Centre, which is the West Australian specialist in working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, assisted Kezang in finding work.
The team in this program have decades of experience working alongside new migrants to help them prepare for and adapt their skills to the Australian context.
When Kezang migrated to Australia with her children and reunited with her husband who’d come here ahead of the family, she was keen to start working.
Despite having more than a decade of experience working in IT she says it’s an “entirely different environment” to work in IT in Australia than in her native Bhutan, which is a developing country.
“The way you do work is more organised, everything is in place, what to do and what not to do, everything is recorded and much more focused,” Kezang said.
“I applied for a lot of jobs online and you don’t hear from them at all,” she said.
Her luck started to change when she attended some of MercyCare’s Employability workshops as part of the Kaleidoscope Mentoring program and undertook volunteer work in the organisation to hone her understanding of Australia workplace expectations.
The Kaleidoscope program run by the City of Stirling and supported by MercyCare is designed to help skilled migrants get into work within their area of expertise.
As part of the program, mentors guide newcomers on a pathway to find employment within their industry, sharing ideas and networks as well as making introductions and providing advice on ways into the industry. Kezang’s mentor, Eric, was a great help.
“Eric took me to many offices in IT in Perth just to get some understanding of how the workplace culture is and how things are communicated,” Kezang said.
Her mentor invited her along to some IT events, such as conferences where she was able to meet people working in the industry. With guidance from her mentor she also worked on finetuning her resume and employer approaches.
With hard work, perseverance and the support of MercyCare and the Kaleidoscope Program, Kezang has now secured a contract within MercyCare’s IT department.
Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are often an overlooked pool of talent and research on diversity suggests more diverse workplaces typically have higher levels of innovation, productivity and staff retention.
Kezang is loving her new role and enjoying developing her communication skills, improving her confidence and becoming part of an Australian workplace.
She has already become a valued part of the MercyCare team.