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Looking for a “Missing Link”: Formal Employment Services and Social Networks in Refugees' Job Search

Torezani, S., Colic-Peisker, V. and Fozdar, F. (2008) Looking for a “Missing Link”: Formal Employment Services and Social Networks in Refugees' Job Search. Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29 (2). pp. 135-152.

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Finding employment and developing social networks that can facilitate this task can be major challenges for migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in Australia and comparable countries, and even more so for refugees who represent a potentially more disadvantaged section of the immigrant intake. This paper explores refugees' perception and use of the Job Network (JN), a group of employment service providers contracted by the Australian government. Using data from a survey of 150 skilled refugee settlers from former Yugoslav, African and Middle Eastern backgrounds in Perth, Western Australia, as well as data collected through interviews with employment service providers and other key informants, we report a mismatch between service providers' and refugees' perceptions and expectations of the employment services. Refugees perceived the JN services and especially JN-provided job training as an opportunity to develop social networks rather than to learn specific job search-relevant skills. On the basis of this finding, and within the social capital framework, we apply the concept of "linking social capital" - the capacity of individuals to leverage resources, ideas and information from institutions beyond their immediate communities - to the labour market integration of refugees in Australia. We conclude that despite the failure of the JN to provide the services refugees need, their activities may be useful for developing linking social capital.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: River Seine Publications
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