How many plumbers are there in Australia

"Skilled workers on the move" seriesAustralia: dream and nightmare country for migrant workers

A typical Friday afternoon in the emergency room at Base Hospital in Port Maquarie, about halfway between Sydney and Brisbane. A child's arm has to be cast, a pensioner has heart problems and plumber Bill Pope scalded his back with hot water while installing a boiler. The patients are locals, Frank Pascoe, but the chief doctor is New Zealander. A migrant worker who moved with family and dog from the north of New Zealand to the Australian east coast a year ago.

"I wanted to work more in the emergency room. In Australia there are more patients, more hospitals and the pay is better than in New Zealand. However, you have to be willing to work in the country or take on shorter-term positions. If you are flexible, you will also financially compensated. "

Almost half of the health workers come from abroad

Whether nurses or doctors: According to the Medical Association, almost half of the workforce in the Australian healthcare sector comes from abroad. The anesthetist Doctor Jeremy Ho is from Singapore. The noise, the traffic, the big city: the ceiling of his young family fell on their heads in their two-room apartment.

In Port Maquarie, which has a population of 45,000, they have a house with a garden and only five minutes to the beach.

"My wife and daughter love it here. We go hiking, swimming in the sea or going on excursions into the countryside. I would have earned more in Singapore, but my family wouldn't have this lifestyle. We'd do it again in a heartbeat and don't want to leave. "

A nurse measures a patient's blood pressure (Pexels / rawpixel)Skilled workers on the move
Skilled workers are now sought in many professions and are also specifically recruited from abroad. But the path to the labor market is neither easy for university nor for professional graduates.

Australia has a strict migration policy. Anyone who is educated, qualified, is needed in shortage occupations from IT to engineering to craft and is committed to the liberal and legal values ​​of the country are welcome, but not those who just want to immigrate to the social system. Australia does not need self-promotion, there are more than enough interested parties. Nevertheless, not every migrant worker is a success story.

From general practitioner to taxi driver

The taxi queue at Sydney Airport. Nasir Baig is waiting in one of the wagons for his next load. Not exactly the future that the 52-year-old general practitioner imagined when he closed his practice in Pakistan three years ago and wanted to open one in Australia. He is still waiting for his admission, his English is said to be too bad and his education is inadequate.

"I have met all the requirements of the medical authorities - but I still have to drive a taxi to be able to support my family."

A strong financial sector, health and social care, high wages and a stable unemployment rate. Australia's economy has been growing for 30 years. To ensure that it stays that way, foreign skilled workers are needed, but also workers who are willing to help out in the deepest outback. Especially in mining. Lured at international trade fairs or through industrial advertising campaigns.

The two classes of migrant workers

Coal, iron ore, gold or uranium, buddies and truck drivers who earn 80,000 euros a year: the raw materials boom has made mining companies and migrant workers rich. In Australia, however, migrant workers are often exploited, underpaid and badly treated in low-wage areas.
"Why did I come here without my family?" Asks Ming Bao, a 22-year-old harvest worker from Hong Kong. "I'm in Australia, but I have nothing."

Ming picks cucumbers at a huge vegetable farm in Queensland. Instead of the equivalent of twelve euros an hour, he only gets seven. Thousands of workers, mainly Asian unskilled workers on fruit and vegetable farms or in chicken factories, feel the same way.

A national disgrace for labor lawyer Joanna Howe.

"The guilt are fraudulent temporary workers who let defenseless workers work countless hours of overtime and withhold large parts of their wages. The companies look the other way at this exploitation. This is an Australia that I am ashamed of."

New agency to close loopholes for worker exploitation

Australia would not be in the black without labor migration, but there is literally a world between A for doctors and Z for temporary workers - and lots of loopholes. The government wants to close it now, and its own authority is supposed to control wage levels, working conditions and employment agencies - especially for lower-paid jobs. Because every kind of work in Australia should be worthwhile for everyone.