Innovative migrant employment program launches in Sydney

A common problem that migrants face is often unemployment or underemployment. Moving to another country can seem very exciting at first; however scouring job advertisements and endless job interviews can make finding a job in another country very daunting. Migrants not only face the struggle of job hunting but also the hassle of not having their qualifications recognised in their new country. Often the struggle of finding a job within the field that they have studied and worked in, leads migrants to taking work outside of their industry.

To tackle this problem, an initiative in Sydney called The Catalysr mentors migrants on how to start their own businesses. Jake Muller and Usman Iftikhar created the program to put a stop to unemployment for migrants in Australia. Built on Iftekhar’s own experience of moving from Pakistan and not being able to find work in his field of engineering, he discovered that he was not alone in struggling to find work. According to Iftikhar, “Statistics show that 60 to 65 per cent of the people who come to Australia as either refugees or migrants are either unemployed or underemployed”. What he discovered during his struggle was that migrants face cultural and network barriers, along with a lack of understanding on how the market operates.

The Catalysr program aims to combat the issues and barriers migrants face by providing mentoring and workshops that help migrants start their own business. There are currently 20 migrants who are taking part in the four-month course where members get the chance to develop their current business ideas, through road-testing their concepts and refining their business models.

Current Catalysr participant, Angela Younis, a former telco manager form Pakistan, is working on bringing Pakistani street food to Australia. Back home, Younis had a great support network and a comfortable life with a good job. However, when she resettled in Australia 18 months ago she faced the struggle of unemployment. “Unfortunately I don’t have local experience and it took me a long time to get into the job market and still I couldn’t find the job that I am looking for, as I was in upper management over there but I have to start here form the entry level”.
With the help of Catalysr, Younis and her husband are now working on their services and refining what may soon be their business product.

For New Zealand, a program that emulates the workings of Catalysr could be greatly beneficial for our migrant community. Migrants in New Zealand are far from immune when it comes to facing issues of unemployment and underemployment.
You can find out more about the Catalyser program here:

What do you think the barriers for employment are for skilled migrants in New Zealand?
Let us know in the comments below…

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