Employers discriminate against international students

We may be a multicultural society but the ability to assimilate into the Australian way of living remains an integral quality that employers are seeking in prospective employees, according to a new study.
The Melbourne University investigation, headed by senior education lecturer Dr Sophie Arkoudis (foto) was commissioned for the Federal Government to compare the job prospects of international university students and local students.
Dr Arkoudis says that international university graduates are struggling to find a job because they often don’t have the social and language skills to fit into the Australian workplace.
“If students can’t speak the language, they are out of the market,” said Dr Arkoudis. “However if they do speak the language, then what employers and what students are telling us becomes important is if the student has completed work experience, how well rounded they are in terms of their social skills and personality, and how they fit into the workplace,” she said. “So in the second scenario, English language proficiency was not the most important factor.”
However Dr Arkoudis said that the international students, the majority of whom were of Indian and Chinese background felt that some employers had a prejudice towards employing them because of their ethnic sounding name. Several students had their curriculum vitae reviewed and corrected by university services yet they were still not refused an interview.
“Or what tends to happen is employers rung up to check what background they were and made judgements about how well they were speaking.”
A recent research study published by the Australian National University also found Australian employers were reluctant to offer jobs to applicants with ethnic names.
To get the same number of interviews as an applicant with an Anglo Saxon name, a Chinese applicant had to submit 68 per cent more applications, a Middle Eastern applicant 64 percent, an Indigenous applicant 35 per cent, and an Italian applicant 12 percent.
Are these figures indicative of a cultural bias, or even racism?
“As a general society we are tolerant and multicultural in nature, but there is no denying that it occurs here as it does in every country,” reasoned Arkoudis.
She went on to say that her study did not explore whether people of specific ethnicities had greater difficulties in job seeking than other ethnicities.
“It’s a problematic way to look at it in terms of just culture,” she empasised. “Research shows that there is just as much differences as similarities within a culture and obviously not all people in one culture are going to behave in the same way.”
Arkoudis added that international students were less likely to find jobs than their local student counterparts because they did not have access to as many social and corporate networks.
“Universities need to be more systematic in offering international students work experience, and developing closer links with employers and social networks,” she said.
“Employer groups also need to develop better equity around employing international students, and to be more responsible in assessing their skills. The Government is trying to encourage employer groups to address this issue which is one of recommendations from our study.”
(source: neos kosmos)