Featured News The key steps to migrants’ success

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Fri, 4 Oct 2019

The key steps to migrants’ success

Image: Kyle Glenn.

New research has revealed the handful of factors that can decide if migrants thrive or fail after they arrive in Australia.

It shows success for migrants to Australia may come down to a few specific factors.

Eddy Ng, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at James Cook University and the James and Elizabeth Freeman Chair in Management at Bucknell University in the USA, was part of a study that interviewed migrants on their experience.

“Australia has been aggressively pursuing skilled migrants to sustain its population and foster economic growth, but many skilled migrants see their careers stall when they come to Australia,” he said.

Professor Ng said based on the most recent census data, only 57 percent of doctors, 29 percent of engineers and 22 percent of accountants were employed in their respective fields within five years of coming to Australia.

The researchers interviewed migrants who were permanent residents or naturalised citizens, from non-English speaking backgrounds. They looked at migrants’ experience on the personal, organisational and societal level and mapped it against their success.

“On the personal level, we found that participants who migrated at a younger age, hold Australian qualifications and take up Australian citizenship are more likely to report an increase in job satisfaction and an upward career move after migration,” said Professor Ng.

He said that on the organisational level, when migrants experience a greater sense of inclusion at work through their informal interactions with local-born Australians, they also report better career outcomes.

“Our finding is notable as it shows organisations play an important role in helping migrants, a factor that is beyond government policy initiatives and individual agency,” said Professor Ng.

He said it was possible that informal connections in the workplace were more important to migrant success than formal company initiatives because they were perceived as more genuine.

“We also found that migrants living in a neighbourhood with a greater proportion of families from the same country of origin were slightly more likely to report a positive shift in job satisfaction,” said Professor Ng.

He said the findings of the study suggest that organisations should promote a work culture that encourages positive and meaningful interactions between migrants and Australian-born employees.


131 migrants provided data for the study.

90% held a university degree.

58% were men.

59% were married.

On average, participants were 30.6 years old when they migrated, and at the time of the survey, had spent 2.6 years in Australia.

77% of respondents are from Asia (South, East, and Southeast), 8% from the Middle East, 7% from Europe (West and Central Europe), and 4% from Africa.


Professor Eddy Ng. (Pennsylvania)
E: eddy.ng@bucknell.edu