This is despite the fact that Australia’s tech industry is facing multiple skills shortages as its workforce is forecast to grow by 100,000 workers between 2018 and 2024 in trend terms, at an average annual growth rate of 2.3%, according to a Deloitte Access Economics report.
The research report, commissioned by global job site Indeed and Advance, the organisation connecting members of the global Australian diaspora, surveyed 440 Australian returned or returning expats and 331 recruitment decision-makers aged 18+, and found that 36% of those expats in the technology industry feel discouraged to come back to Australia, while a third (34%) were not successful in getting a job interview.
Indeed says that with contention around skilled migrant visas, the report points to returning expats as a potential resource that can help alleviate skills shortages in the tech industry “and yet 85% of returned expats experience barriers to finding work back in Australia”.
According to the findings, nearly three quarters of respondents (71%) reported a positive experience from hiring a returned expat while almost 3 in 5 (57%) of recruiters identified that recruiting returned Australians has a longer-term strategic benefit.
But, while recruiters expressed concerns that expat candidates who recently returned home lacked strong Australian business networks, in fact nearly half (49%) of those returning froma stint overseas reported eventually finding employment through their own networks.
Indeed says this demonstrated that expats returning to Australia are indeed benefitting from maintaining strong connections back home.
“By overlooking Australian talent in global markets, employers are limiting their options. In fact, 65% of the survey respondents believe Australian businesses are creating an environment that discourages Australians working overseas from returning,” says indeed.
When looking for work back home, a third (34%) of expats who recently returned home reported not being successful in landing an interview for a potential role where their skills precisely matched the job requirements. And while almost a quarter (24%) of those surveyed were successful in landing interviews for various roles, they still reported missing out on job offers.
And according to the report it takes those returning home 2.1 months longer than the average job seeker to secure a job.
Indeed says that when it comes to the skillsets that returning expats can offer corporate Australia, the ability to manage culturally diverse staff and stakeholders, global leadership and strategy, international regulation, and knowledge of emerging technologies are among them.
Given two-thirds (67%) of recruiters say they have struggled to find candidates to fill roles because of skill shortages or a lack of relevant experience, those returning home present as valuable talent and offer a potential solution to Australia’s skills deficit, notes Indeed.
Paul D'Arcy, SVP Marketing at Indeed, commented: “It’s clear Australia has pull-factors that attract its diaspora back to the country and, as the report identifies, these skilled workers present a significant opportunity for recruiters and businesses.
“While most (83%) recruiters said they are cautious about recommending expats who recently returned home for Australian-based roles, we know diverse workforces are more successful than homogeneous ones, which is why employers and recruiters are missing out on an untapped pool of returning workers whose skills and experiences could positively impact their company.
“In order to reap the rewards of expats returning home, employers and recruiters could embrace a change in mindset to one that looks beyond its own borders to one that prioritises ability and skill. Businesses would do well to abandon any preconceived ideas they have about what a candidate needs to handle a job and adopt policies that make the hiring process more objective.
“This will mean that in the global battle for talent, Australia has the opportunity to secure the best and brightest talent in the market.”
Yasmin Allen, chairman of Advance, believes that professional networks are critical to helping professionals coming home to reintegrate into Australia’s workforce and government policy is also key to supporting their return home to draw on their specialist knowledge and expertise.
“As a country, we derive value and benefits from encouraging our expats to remain connected with Australia and to come home to share their experience and bring their intellectual property with them. This in turn fuels innovation and benefits the entire nation economically,” Allen said.
“Additionally, expats themselves need to be prepared and mindful that things may have changed in their home country during their absence. Events might have taken place that have shaped Australia that may have eluded them, and they may have achieved a level of seniority that does not exist here.
“We know Australia can benefit overall from better connection with our diaspora and through Advance we help facilitate that, by celebrating and engaging our expats and encouraging them to remain connected, to each other and to Australia.”
Indeed lists key findings of the ‘They Still Call Australia Home’ research report as:
- Australians who believe that working overseas will be to their advantage when returning to Australia may need to think again. Research shows the opposite is true. In fact, they might struggle to gain work back in Australia – and will probably have to take a pay-cut
- Businesses and recruitment decision-makers’ unintentional disregard is effectively locking expats out of returning to the Australian jobs market. In fact, 65% of all respondents believe that Australian businesses are creating an environment that discourages Australians working overseas from returning.
- A third (34%) of returned or returning expats aren’t even landing an interview for a potential role where their skills precisely match the job requirements. A quarter (24%) are landing multiple interviews for various roles, and yet miss out on being offered the job.
- While nine in 10 (89%) of recruitment decision-makers consider that managing projects across multiple countries is a positive experience on a job application, a third (32%) of them are reluctant or cautious to hire a returned expat for an Australian-based role on the basis of perceived cultural difficulties, most commonly the potential delay in ‘settling in’ to a role.
- Three in 10 recruiters (31%) prioritise a candidate with Australian-only work experience, favouring their knowledge of recent Australian history, the political climate and culture over candidates who have been out of the country for a period of time.
- A third of recruiters (33%) think that returned expats misjudge their earning power in Australia and the perception that they have a self-inflated sense of skills and experience is the most commonly held belief among half (45%) of recruiters, who think returned expats expect a higher salary.
- The situation for some is so challenging, that some returned expats are packing their bags and returning overseas because their international experience is not valued (67%), or because there are fewer suitable roles in Australia (65%).
- Seven in 10 returned expats (70%) said their self-esteem was impacted by the difficulties associated with returning to work in Australia, while a third (32%) of returned expat Australians and rebound expats regret having come back to Australia.
- Two-thirds (67%) of returned expat Australians have considered packing up their bags and leaving Australia again to get the right role.