21 Nov 2017

Overqualified migrants. What are the impacts? What can help?

This post will  review the:

  • The negative effects of overqualified or underemployed migrants for the host country.
  • What can help migrants who are overqualified?
The previous post Why are migrant doctors driving taxis? looked at:
  • Reasons behind migrants being overqualified
  • How does overqualification affect migrants?

The negative effects of overqualified or underemployed migrants for the host country.

1.      Migrants employed in low skilled jobs with a low esteem may decrease productivity.
2. The host country becomes over-reliant on skilled labour at a low rate. This cheap labour may not be sustainable. When an English person was asked what she thought after Brexit was voted for, they said, 

“Get rid of the migrants, but not my Polish plumber. He is so skilled and cheap.”
Other examples of over-reliance on cheaper immigrant labour are in aged care places, where migrants often qualified nurses are low-paid carers, or the dairy industry in NZ, which has become reliant on Filipino workers.

3. The migrant, dissatisfied and unable to live the dream, repatriates. The host country’s immigration department investment in that person is lost. As the migrant goes ‘home’ and describes their experience, the country loses out on other potential migrants. According to Helpscout, it takes twelve positive experiences to make up for one negative experience. An article in the NZ Herald in September 2017 headlined “Don’t come to New Zealand British teachers warned colleagues back home” highlighted that the process of qualification recognition was costly and in some cases unrealistic.

4. Losing labour when immigration policies change. NZ recently announced a salary of $48,000 to determine whether a migrant is skilled. A salary below $48,000 meant that you were unskilled.

“The rules were due to come into effect next month, and included a minimum annual income of $48,000 for jobs currently considered skilled. It would force immigrants to leave for at least 12 months after three years of working here.” Radio NZ

5. Marginalised migrants gather and take solace in clusters. These clusters or ‘ethnic groups’ can create friction with the native born as the group increases in number, strength and unity. Immigrants become perceived in stereotypes rather than as individuals. The groups are harder to integrate into the community.

What can help overqualified migrants?

  1. Be well-researched on the requirements of the country.
  2. Accept that unless you have been headhunted for a position, being underemployed for a while may help you have the energy to get to know the country you are in.
  3. Have your qualifications recognised by an international standard before you migrate.
  4. Improve your language of the host country.
  5. Make connections with people in the host country so that when an opportunity comes up, you can take it.
  6. Re-evaluate why you wanted to migrate. Was it employment prospects, lifestyle or other reasons?
  7. Seek out other migrants who feel similarly. Support each other and campaign for greater recognition of workplace diversity and reduction of discrimination.

Below are two websites that are helping migrants to become fully employed. Hopefully internet searching for professional migrant help in your host country will help you find ways to reach your full potential when you ready.

Skilled Migrant Programme New Zealand