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31 Jul 2015

The Greek Economic Crisis Offers Australia An Opportunity to Grow

As Greece swelters in its debt crisis – its social fabric frayed up and decent living and employment prospects fleeting like a distant dream, Australia witnesses the second wave of en masse Greek exodus since the Second World War. Since the 1940s, over 600,000 Greeks have made Australia their home, with Melbourne being the largest hub of Greeks nationals in the world (including second and third generation Greek-Australians) outside of Greece, who have contributed to the continent’s growth. This second wave of Greek immigration is bringing in more and more Greek nationals, who are making the move Down Under in search of better employment opportunities and a enviable standard of living.

The Situation

Greek’s debt crisis has left its own economy in shambles and sent a fiscal panic all across the EU and beyond. Business bankruptcy, unavailability of money, severely tightened eligibility criteria for bank loans and an ever tightening employment market have led Greek nationals to seek employment outside of their country. Australia has proven itself to be an affable ground for Greeks who have been able to leverage their knowledge and skills to pursue lucrative career opportunities in an economy that has shown steady growth over the last 25 years.



Clash of Perspectives

From the Greek perspective one might argue that for the major part most Greek migrants initially take a back step in their career and opt for odd jobs in restaurants, construction and agriculture production – or whatever is available, or the kind of jobs that native Australians do not want to do for the pay, just to put food on the table, help family at home and start a new life.

From the Australian perspective it might seem that the sudden influx of Greek and European job seekers is posing a severe backlash within the local Australia job market – that even with a temporary employment permit, newly arriving Greek migrants are pulling lucrative employment prospects of Australian workers, besides putting a considerable pressure on public infrastructure and housing.

However, both perspectives only present half the truth. Given that the Australian economy, though cooling in some areas is still healthy and growing with new jobs are being created everyday in IT, digital, marketing, communications, retail, sales, energy and education sectors, there is equal employment opportunity for anyone and everyone who fits specific job descriptions and profile requirements. Plus, companies hire qualified and deserving talent who will excel in their roles and add value to the enterprise; it doesn’t really matter where they come from, as long as they have proper work authorisation and of course, domain expertise.


The Age Factor & Why Australia Benefits from Skilled Migrants

According to the Australian Intergenerational Report of 2015, about 88% of migrants are below 40 years of age, as compared to only 54% of resident Australians. In fact, even in the migrant group, almost 50% are between the ages of 20 and 34 years, and therefore at their prime working age. As against this, only 1 in 4 resident Australians belongs to this working age group.

Young, skilled and hard-working migrants that come from rich and diverse cultural backgrounds certainly push the bars of population, participation and productivity in the country, and contribute significantly to the growth of the Australian economy. Migrants seeking employment in Australia add to the pool of human capital; their skills and knowledge raise both productivity as well as the rate of labour participation, which leads to the increase of per head income and improvement of living standards – for all Australians.

The Report also projects that the number of Australians above 65 years of age will double by 2050s, gradually mounting pressure on the country’s future financial budgets. With its population ageing at a rapid pace, Australia’s senior citizens (or non-working population) will need a more secure welfare system, which can only be established with the admission of young, skilled and industrious migrant workforce.

Employment Opportunities in Australia for Greek Migrants

The influx of Greek immigrants moving to Australia with a Subclass 457 work visa is one the rise. This temporary business visa allows skilled oversees workers to be sponsored by Australian employers and work in the continent for a maximum period of four years. Importantly, it also allows the workers’ family members to come to Australia to study or work during the period of their visa’s validity. Organisations such as the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI) and the Hellenic Institute assist well-educated and highly qualified Greek immigrants to seek employment in Australian multinationals, based on their respective professional skill-sets and prior work experience.


Employment Projections & Opportunities

The 2015 Five-Year Employment Projections report released by the Department of Employment, Government of Australia suggests a very strong growth in the demand for IT and Computer Network professionals by November 2018. The Department’s ‘Occupation Projections to Nov 2018’ report predicts a 12.8% spike in the demand for IT professionals while its ‘Industry Projections to Nov 2018’ statistics forecast a 20.5% hike in the demand for computer network professionals, chiefly in business and property services, communication services, finance and insurance, administration and manufacturing domains. Source: http://lmip.gov.au/default.aspx?LMIP/EmploymentProjections

Apart from the IT market in Australia, which thrives on low costs of development and availability of highly skilled labour, the Australian digital industry is another fertile playground for experienced, accomplished and creative talent. From Digital Marketing Officer positions to Social Media Marketing jobs and from Digital Strategist profiles to Media Sales openings – there are plenty of attractive career opportunities to pursue! What’s even better, the entry of a skilled workforce from outside Australia (be it from Greece, or from other European countries such as Portugal, Spain and Italy, or of Australian nationals returning home from the UK and Europe) balances the surge of new vacancies and helps employer brands to quickly fill such newly created and hot job openings with top and readily available talent.


David Jackson, Managing Director of S2M Digital, a leading recruitment company in Australia remarks, “The influx of highly skilled and educated people seeking to escape a lack of career opportunities in Europe is a great opportunity for Australian businesses. Not only do we have experience and skills arriving on our shores, but also people who can afford Australian business with an insight into the European market.”

Effects on Wage Distribution

While it is true that low skilled immigrants lower the average wage distribution by 3-8% for jobs that do not require superior skill sets, the effects of Greek immigration on Australian job market is more noteworthy in specific occupations or within definite wage ranges. The greatest effect of wage distribution is found in the low-wage worker segment and does not really affect the high-wage group. So, while Greek immigration may have an adverse effect on employment of Australia-born workers with intermediate education and low job-related skills, it will have a positive impact on the employment prospects of Australian-born workers with advanced education degrees and greater skill sets relevant to specific hot jobs in booming sectors. So basically, anyone – citizen or migrant, with expert professional skills and specific industry or domain knowledge will thrive in Australia, professionally and financially… and this in itself is great news, not only for the new arrivals but also for a country that is striving to keep unemployment levels low and maintain its status as, what Australian-American business mogul Rupert Murdock called, ‘a wonderful land of opportunity’. Jackson adds “We have seen increasing numbers of excellent candidates from Europe seeking to build a new career and life in Australia. The United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, France and Italy are all experiencing some retraction in their economies, with the resulting unemployment levels leading many to look abroad, and to Australia in particular. It really is the old adage, their loss is our gain.”

Relocating and restarting one’s career half way across the globe may be a difficult decision to make. But given Australia’s prosperity and a plethora of employment opportunities available – both existing and newly created, this seems like a risk worth taking! And if the newly arriving Greeks can contribute to the nation’s economic prosperity, they, like many of their forebears may choose not to return to Greece, even after their country pulls its nose out of the debt crisis.

Looking for high-paying jobs in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or any other Australian city? Visit www.s2m.com.au

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