SMPP Project Report 2002-2003
Project Officer: Preeya Prasad
Assistant: Samia Ahmed
This year has proved to be a challenging year for The Skilled Migrant Placement Officer as the program shifts its focus and becomes extremely outcome based. The NSW Government Skilled Migrant Placement Program had just gone through changes yet again with the specific purpose of addressing the needs of skilled migrants by being more outcomes focused.
One of the major changes in the program is that the Overseas Skills Unit, previously part of Department of Education and Training now is part of AMES. The official move occurred in January 2003. Speakout as part of the SMPO forum is involved in ongoing discussions with Department of Education and Training regarding strategic collaboration between SMPOs and key DET workers regarding the importance of pre employment confidence building and other nonstrict employment outcomes.
Our clients possess skills mainly in the areas of education, accounting & finance and IT. The skills and experience were gained overseas. Most hold a Bachelors degree or a higher qualification. These skills are vastly overshadowed, as employers tend to focus on barriers that hinder NESB women from gaining employment. These barriers include the absence of local work experience, the lack of local industry contacts and lack of knowledge. From the clients perspective lack of English proficiency for the workplace, childcare, confidence and lack of self-esteem were also significant barriers.
The SMP Program mainly focused on assisting clients with employment and work experience placements and referrals to TAFE, private education providers and training institutes. The change in funding guidelines meant a change of focus directed strongly at outcome based performance. This meant (Number of clients in full time, part time and casual employment and number in work experience) which we strive to accomplish. Another addition to our qualitative outcomes was providing 10 presentations to employers over the funding period regarding issues faced by skilled migrant women while trying to access employment. The point of these presentations is to secure work experience placements for our clients. The challenge this year was reminding and reiterating to the funding body the importance of recognising and addressing systemic barriers before success can be determined in terms of gaining employment or securing a work experience placement.
The SMPO also provided preparatory assistance, career counselling, and strategic goal setting. Significant time was spent on supporting clients to develop job search skills in preparation for employment. This included building resumes, writing covering letters and applications, undertaking company research, interviewing, contacting employers and using office equipment and computers for Internet searches.
A success story for this year relates to Nalini. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from overseas but had never worked in her profession. She was a new graduate and had migrated to Australia straight after graduation. After completing Skillmax and TAFE courses she was referred to SMPP at Speakout. Nalini was desperately looking for some work experience. This is when she came into contact with SMPO at IWSA. Nalini received support and training on job searching skills and through careful negotiation with the human resources officer a work experience placement was arranged with the employer. After the completion of the work experience the human resources manager contacted the SMPO informing her that the employer was thinking of offering Nalini a paid graduate position as her managers were very impressed with the client's hard work, skills and dedication. Nalini is now employed full time and is very happy with this outcome. This story turned out to be a success as there was collaboration between client, SMPO and the positive attitude of the employer. The SMP program strives to reach these outcomes. It has to be noted that most clients of IWSA do have significant barriers to overcome before they can actively participate in the workforce through work experience programs.
Pre Election Forum
This March a Pre Election Forum was organised by Speakout and Co hosted by the Ethnic Communities Council and The Muslim Women's Association. This Forum focused on the issues affecting Immigrant and Refugee women. A refugee client from the SMPP program spoke out about her experiences when accessing employment and training in NSW Australia. Her plight echoes the plight of many in her situation with issues regarding access, employment and training, and availability of suitable childcare. She also spoke about the importance of programs such as the SMP Program for oversees skilled migrants who are often neglected by mainstream services or put in the "too hard basket".
Opportunities in The Public Sector
One of the focuses this year remains continued collaboration with The Office of the Director of Equal Opportunity in Public Employment. A total of fifty paid work experience placements are offered through the Migrant Career Development Program. A significant change to the program is the placements could continue for six, nine or twelve months depending on the Employer. Employers who have supported the MCDP this year included the NSW Ambulance Service, NSW Fire Brigades, and Department of Fair Trading. Clients and SMPOs work very hard so clients can gain a paid work experience placement. SMPP clients are competing with other applicants who are already in the public sector. Preparatory sessions to apply for these vacancies would include subjects such as addressing selection criteria, ad analysis, common selection criteria and a mock interview with the client and SMPO. This is an extremely beneficial process as it gave clients a first hand experience of the job seeking process in the Public Sector. For some clients it was the first time they had been through this process as this is not a practice in their country of origin.
The SMPO Forum invited speakers from the public sector for mutual information exchange. Through this the sector was informed of the role of SMPO and the SMP Program and explored possibilities of new opportunities that could be created for all SMPO clients. During September and November 2002 recruitment officers from NSW Fire Brigade and NSW Health Department gave presentations regarding paid work experience opportunities, assessment of qualification, bridging courses, accessing Area of Need program for overseas trained Medical professionals and the various websites that IWSA clients could access information
A workshop for overseas trained engineers was held and facilitated by The Careers Advisor from the Institute of Engineers Australia and SMPOs. This session gave our clients relevant information regarding assessment processes, membership eligibility, resume formats and industry information. This workshop was a result from a presentation that the Careers Advisor had made in one of the SMPO forums. All clients were invited to attend and found the full day session extremely useful.
Policy and Advocacy
The SMPO team at Speakout continue to advocate on employment training and education policy issues affecting migrant and refugee women.
Achievements in 2002 included:
Finally the SMPO team would like to extend its thanks to all volunteers and staff here at Speakout. We also extend our thanks to Members of the Management Committee for their guidance and support throughout this dynamic year, and to our colleagues in the community sector for their ongoing dedication, and to DET NSW for their support for this program.