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Migrants and refugees thrive under USQ career program

45% of all participants of the Making Career Choices program come from non-English speaking backgrounds.
45% of all participants of the Making Career Choices program come from non-English speaking backgrounds. Thinkstock

NOT having English as your first language can be hard, but imagine trying to find a job with limited English and no idea where to start.

That's the experience for most recent arrivals to Australia who in many cases haven't always spoken English and even if they have, are unsure of their options regarding pursuing their career or further study.

Goodna resident Vicky Farmer is a teacher in the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP) at Inala TAFE Queensland and said most of her students wouldn't have a clue where to find work or who they can talk to to discuss their options.

"My students come from Italy, Iran, Iraq, China, Korea, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Congo- basically all over the world,” Ms Farmer said.

"While many of them may not speak much English, most are highly educated professionals like surgeons, doctors, lawyers and teachers who can speak English fairly well yet they still find the whole process of finding a job or accessing further study difficult.

"Some of them have to do more study because their qualifications may not be recognised here in Australia and by knowing what different pathways are available is not only helpful for them, but also their kids too because they haven't grown up in our education system and therefore don't understand it.”

Ms Farmer said there used to be career counsellors available to the students, but once these were cancelled she was left feeling frustrated at not being able to help her students with more in-depth knowledge or advice regarding choosing the right career path.

Inala TAFE teacher Vicky Farmer uses the USQ Making Career Choices program to assist her students with their career and study aspirations.
Inala TAFE teacher Vicky Farmer uses the USQ Making Career Choices program to assist her students with their career and study aspirations.

It was at a professional development day that Ms Farmer discovered USQ's Making Career Choices Program- a project which aims to improve the access, participation and success of students from communities under-represented in higher education- and knew it would be the perfect fit for her students.

"This program works well because a lot of our new arrivals have no idea how to achieve their goals,” Ms Farmer said.

"This program allows the students to set up an appointment with a career development practitioner whereas I can only give them general advice.

"The feedback from the students has been really positive because it gives them access to people who can help them find their way with regards to further study or work which can be quite confusing because there are so many options.

"It's much too hard for them to navigate online, so the one-on-one sessions are essential.

"I can't say enough how useful the program has been to adult migrant students in the area, it's just been invaluable.”

Making Career Choices project co-ordinator, Carolyn Alchin said she had witnessed first-hand the many benefits of the program for migrants and refugees and was proud of what it had achieved.

"From our perspective the project enables and supports a large population from non-English speaking backgrounds and to help them better understand and access the world of work and education opportunities,” Mrs Alchin said.

"I've just printed off the quarterly report for the program and the data says that 45% of all community participants were from non-English speaking backgrounds.

"The program is tremendously valuable and we get calls almost daily from people who want to get involved and have had more than 4100 people take part in the project just in 2017.”

The USQ Making Career Choices program The program is available to community members in Springfield, Ipswich and the Western Corridor, Toowoomba and the Darling Downs and south-western Queensland.

For more information, visit the Making Career Choices website.

Topics:  career advice higher education migrants and refugees springfield usq making career choices



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