'Word of mouth' jobs elude ethnic migrants: study

Jun 04, 2012

University of Melbourne research has found a lack of social networks - and not necessarily racism or poor qualifications - is making life tough for ethnically diverse job seekers.

The study, The Ethnic Penalty: Immigration, Education and the Labour Market, by Dr Reza Hasmath, examined why ethnic minorities and their children struggle to obtain high-paying employment, despite often having a more advanced formal education than the wider population.

Dr Hasmath, from the University’s School of Social and Political Science, said many people learn about work opportunities through ‘word of mouth’.

“Two-thirds of all job openings are found through social networks,” he said.

“This means a person’s ability to obtain job information is tied to the diversity of their acquaintances and friends.  

“But ethnic minorities’ personal contacts tend to come from a narrower range of occupations. As such, they receive less job opening information and are steered towards a smaller group of job opportunities.

“This sets the stage for a continued ethnic penalty.”

The research also found ethnic minorities can suffer from a wider breakdown of trust between their community and the dominant ethnic group.
 

and employers must establish a minimal level of trust in each other before they can engage in a working relationship,” Dr Hasmath said.
 

“It is not far fetched to suggest that the decline in trust we are seeing between minorities and non-minorities reduces the chances for ethnic minorities to secure high wage ”.

Dr Hasmath said government intervention could be necessary to level the playing field.

“Public sector employers must be encouraged to strive for employment equity, and there should be real repercussions if the goal is not met,” he said.

“And governments at all levels could provide tax incentives to promote employment equity in the private sector.

“We have a tendency to see this as an equity issue.  While there are certainly merits to this, when we think about it from an investment perspective we can start to see how alarming this situation can be for Australia’s future economic success.”

Explore further: Power can corrupt even the honest

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Exploring cancer with computers

May 08, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Computers can be used to identify cancer treatment targets that wouldn't otherwise have been considered, according to research by an Australian team.

Recommended for you

Power can corrupt even the honest

5 hours ago

When appointing a new leader, selectors base their choice on several factors and typically look for leaders with desirable characteristics such as honesty and trustworthiness. However once leaders are in power, can we trust ...

Learning at 10 degrees north

5 hours ago

Secluded beaches, calypso music and the entertaining carnival are often what come to mind when thinking of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. But Dal Earth Sciences students might first consider Trinidad's ...

How to find the knowns and unknowns in any research

7 hours ago

Have you ever felt overloaded by information? Ever wondered how to make sense of claims and counter-claims about a topic? With so much information out there on many different issues, how is a person new to ...

Minorities energize US consumer market, according to report

7 hours ago

The buying power of minority groups in the U.S. has reached new heights and continues to outpace cumulative inflation, according to the latest Multicultural Economy Report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kevinrtrs
3 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
This is really a very tough nut to crack all over the world, not just in Aus.
It's the same old story everywhere, but especially where white people are in the economic driving seats. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying this is some form of conscious, deliberate racial discrimination on the part of the [white] employers. What it boils down to - in my opinion - is that at the social level, people tend to associate with those whose culture they feel familiar with.
So in the case of whites, they will tend to cluster with whites. For instance, white people in the U.S. will be more likely to strike up conversations with whites from Germany, Ireland, etc. than with not so white looking Mexicans or Chinese who are natives of the U.S.
That's just an observation, no matter how one would like to argue that one is not so inclined.