International students represent a valuable and largely untapped resource for Australian organisations, according to the International Education Association of Australia.
Australian businesses can profit from hiring international students and augment their talent pool as they rise above the heap of a highly-competitive global market economy. More importantly, they can remain attuned to the needs and preferences of their diverse customer base.
EduCo SVP for Global Marketing Adam Roberts supports this logic as he points out, “International students form part of a new generation of creative thinkers with modern perspectives and bring different skill sets, attitudes and ideas that contribute the upbeat vibe of our campuses, workplaces and social settings.”
Latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that 49% of Australians were either born overseas (first generation) or have a foreign-born parent (second generation) compared with 51% of natural born Australians – a further proof that the inclusive Aussie culture works.
Australia today stands out as one of the most progressive and livable places in the world because it continues to embrace the best contributions of its people – regardless of whether they’re first generation immigrants, working visa holders or international students.
Benefits to Australian business
The common misconception that international students cannot speak English has been debunked again and again.
For one, the Department of Home Affairs may require student visa applicants to submit evidence of English language proficiency or having taken a standardised test such as IELTS, TOEFL, Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic, and Cambridge Assessment English with some exceptions.
For another, international students won’t be able to proceed to their undergraduate or postgraduate degree program without having passed their university’s highly-regulated pathway programs which are, of course, taught in English. Either that or learning General English and English for Academic Purposes could be the pathway program itself.
Australian employers can broaden their understanding of their diverse customer base and remain competitive while tapping the knowledge and skills of a diverse pool of international students. Businesses also answer the need of some international students to gain practical skills and highlight overseas (Australian) work experience in their resumes when they return to their respective countries.
Moreover, Australian employers get the chance to observe the new hires who are still pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees and form an impression of how they will cope after integrating into the workforce. International students can also enrich the cultural experience of the workplace while building the company’s corporate equity.
Benefits to international students
Given the opportunity, international students will eagerly put their hand up and share the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired as they continue to learn from Australia’s higher education institutions. Equipped with the different skill sets that they’ve honed in their country of origin, they can also brush up on their English language savvy. They can then participate in the various structured programs available in their school and gain the experience that they need to integrate into the workforce, from the following:
Mentoring program. Students get coached and guided as they shadow key executives for at least a month and mutually share their inputs and add value to the company. The Southern Cross University’s Employability Skills Program best exemplifies this.
Work-integrated learning (WIL) placement. Most universities integrate academic learning with practical application in the workplace to enrich the student experience.
Internship or ongoing graduate role. Paid or unpaid work experience related to a student’s field of study, this program provides the student with a reference for future employment as well as a possible job offer after graduation.
International students who wish to work should acquire a Tax File Number from the Australian Tax Office. Their student visa allows them to work for 20 hours a week during school term and unlimited hours during school breaks. Graduates can also take advantage of their post-study work rights.
Companies are always looking for the right talent. International students can be an asset to organisations with international operations or businesses that are expanding offshore operations.
The possibilities are exciting as companies open up to a highly-educated multicultural talent pool. Conversely, international students can actively explore the idea of working either in global companies with headquarters in Australia, multinational Australian companies with worldwide operations or local businesses with a highly-diverse customer base.
Examples of these companies with web pages dedicated to their careers section and job openings are as follows:
Global companies with Australian headquarters
- Survey Monkey
Multinational Australian companies with worldwide operations
- Carlton & United Breweries (formerly Foster’s Group)
- Crown Resorts
- Haydenshapes Surfboards
- QBE Insurance
- Rebel Sport
- Rio Tinto
- Rip Curl
- SMEC Holdings
National businesses with a highly-diverse customer base
- CIMIK Group
- Commonwealth Bank
- National Australia Bank
- Scentre Group
- Wesfarmers (with subsidiaries Coles Supermarkets, Pick ‘n’ Pay Hypermarket, Bunnings Warehouse, Officeworks, BusinessDirect, Kmart, Target, Wesfarmers Insurance, and Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers)
- Woolworths Group (operates Woolworths Supermarkets, Thomas Dux, Woolworths Money, Big W, Woolworths Caltex, Woolworths Rewards, Endeavour Drinks Group, Dan Murphy’s, ALH Group, Langton’s, Woolworths Facilities Management, Woolworths Metro, BWS and Woolworths Countdown)
Australian employers and international students can strike a happy balance in the workplace by threshing out the differences in the way business is conducted in Australia vis-à-vis their country of origin. In this win-win scenario, both parties continue to reap the benefits of what each can contribute to the other as they discard long-held prejudices that dramatically stymie innovation and growth.