With 10 years experience teaching IT and doing business administration, Hasanji Rajapaksha should not have any problem finding work.
She’s discovered the hard way, however, that there’s a gap between Sri Lankan qualifications and what Australian employers look for.
Mrs Rajapaksha was one of more than 50 migrant job seekers who packed into Sydwest Multicultural Services on Tuesday morning for the launch of Job Club.
The joint initiative brings together the networks of Settlement Services International (SSI), with offices in Parramatta, Bankstown and Ashfield; and Sydwest, located in Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Penrith.
The strong turn-out to Tuesday’s information session showed immigrants are hungry for work, according to Sydwest community engagement manager Angela Van Dyke.
“People don’t want to be on welfare, they want a job,” Ms Van Dyke said.
“People want a hand up, not a hand out.
“We heard what people were saying and asked, ‘What can we do to respond to community need? What can we do to make a difference?’”
Ms Rajapaksha said she had moved on from looking for teaching and administration work, and through Sydwest is gaining skills in childcare.
“It’s hard financially and it’s hard mentally, not working, when that’s what you have done for so long,” she said.
“In Australia you need references, whether it is volunteer or paid work.
“You seem like you are nothing. That’s the worst case.”
Iranian immigrant Aryan Soleymani is also gaining new skills, in customer service and first aid.
He was a stock broker before coming to Australian six months ago. His aim now is to find casual work and study business at university.
“There are many difficult things. Finding a home, finding a job or study opportunities,” Mr Soleymani said.
“My sister wants to go to university. My parents want to learn English, but it is very difficult.
“I hope [Job Club] is helpful. I have heard good things [about Sydwest] from friends. I hope this one works for me.”