Making the cut: occupation-specific factors influencing employers in their recruitment and selection of immigrant professionals in the information technology and accounting occupations in regional Australia
The ongoing underutilisation of immigrant skills has become a topical issue for researchers and policy-makers alike. Within Australia, the majority of studies conducted in this space have adopted either the immigrant or policy-maker perspective, and have utilised human capital theory or labour market segmentation theory to explain the phenomenon. This paper contributes to the existing literature by proposing a novel occupation-specific approach focusing on the employer as a central player in determining labour market outcomes. In this exploratory study, interviews were conducted with 21 employers of accounting and IT employers in the regional city of Wollongong, Australia. The findings suggest that employers of accountants held a greater preference for Australian work experience and qualifications; communication skills beyond English language skills; and emphasised person- organisation fit over person-job fit. Conversely, employers of immigrant IT professionals were more tolerant of overseas- based qualifications and experience; were willing to accept candidates with 'sub-standard' communication skills; and were open to personal attribute variations. Immigrant accounting professionals were therefore more likely than their IT counterparts to experience disadvantage when seeking employment opportunities in Australia; a finding that represents important implications for immigrant professionals, policy-makers and employers.