Impact of international students on Australian job market

While the Department of Immigration doesn’t track the work of international students, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has provided insights into their impact on the labour market.

The impact of international students on the Australian job market has been revealed, following new research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As many as 40,000 students from overseas rely on the hospitality sector for income, based on calculations from Australian National University migration researcher Henry Sherrell using the new ABS research released last week.

The research links employment data from the Census to addresses and biographic details of temporary visa holders to provide the first ever large scale insight into the working lives of visitors to Australia.

It shows more than one in three foreign students reported having jobs in the 2011 Census. Approximately 15 per cent of these were hospitality workers, 11 per cent were cleaners and laundry workers, 10 per cent were sales assistants and eight per cent were food preparation assistants.

The Department of Immigration does not track the work of international students. These students can work up to 20 hours per week during semester and unlimited hours during semester breaks.

“If you plonk those people (around universities) in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, that will have some effect on those labour markets,” Mr Sherrell said.

While it’s likely that some foreign students are “substituting” for young Australians in these jobs, Mr Sherrell said it was a complicated field of study and it’s too soon to call for reform.

“The hard thing about this stuff, is if you take backpackers and international students, they’re often working for non-wage incentives like residency, while Australians are much more driven, especially at a young age, by wage considerations,” he said.

“If you’re going to work at Coles, you’re likely not going to work at Coles for the rest of your life, so you’re not after enjoyment or career opportunities.”

The Productivity Commission reported last year that a “lack of fundamental data on employment patterns” of students was making it difficult to assess whether working rights should be limited, but it was likely that students were making an impact.

“Given the number of students and graduates involved and their geographic and demographic concentration, these effects are likely to significant,” it stated.

“This is particularly likely for student work rights since this group tends to undertake low and semiskilled work —where they are likely to be in competition with Australian youth and first job entrants.”

Source: SBS news- By Jackson Gothe-Snape