A new study on the social benefit vs the ‘cost’ that migrants bring to Australia has revealed that migrants are mostly better qualified and educated than Australians. Typically migrants ad diversity to the Australian society and seem to successfully integrate with local communities.
The study, published by the Australian Department of Social Services, surveyed a population sample of both the Australian-born and foreign-born residents. Factors such as employment, welfare payments, workplace skills and education issues were considered. Some of the highlights of immigration were listed:
• Overall, migrants have attained higher education qualifications, stated the report, than the Australia-born prior to migration, thus raising national levels (on a per capita basis) of human capital.
• High levels of proficiency in English are demonstrated by many major birthplace groups of migrants but English second language speakers brought linguistic diversity to the country which adds not only to Australia’s cultural diversity but also to its ability to interact and trade with other nations, with attendant social benefits.
• Those parts of Australia that have attracted large numbers of migrants have had their pool of human capital substantially increased.
• Overall, migrants have lower welfare recipient rates than the Australia-born. Eligibility periods for welfare payments apply to most migrant groups thus limiting the size of the welfare umbrella.
• The Family Reunion Scheme has been an important facet of the successful integration of some migrant groups into the workplace and wider community.
• Most migrants obtaining employment seem to successfully integrate into the Australian workplace.
• Members of some migrant groups have been highly successful in labour markets.
• Migrants have expanded the scope and style of expertise and creativity available in the Australian workplace and to the industry.
• A recent OECD (2006) report pointed to Australia being among a handful of countries with relatively small achievement gaps between immigrant and ‘native’ students.
• Appreciation of cultural differences in schools lays foundations for wider intercultural understanding and tolerance.
• Australia has been successful in attracting highly qualified migrants.
• There is seemingly widespread employer support for the continuation of policies to
increase opportunities for temporary visas and conversion of long-term visas to permanent onshore status.
• More recent intakes of skilled migrants have increasingly better qualifications.
• Many migrants change occupations after arrival in Australia, perhaps reflecting recognition of, retraining for, or improvement in qualifications.