Combining Skills Recognition strategies with equity and diversity planning and cultural awareness development can lead to greater job satisfaction of equity group employees. It can also improve workforce development overall. Cultural awareness programs can assist employers and employees to recognise how the skills and knowledge of culturally and linguistically diverse colleagues may be overlooked. The process can identify positive strategies improving practice.
Some recruitment processes tend to be oriented toward English-speaking, non-Indigenous job applicants. As a result, migrant and Indigenous applicants may not be familiar with the recruitment process. Some rail companies are now realising for example, the benefits of offering pre-employment programs to Indigenous job applicants which better prepare them for recruitment.
A rail passenger operator runs a pre-apprenticeship program that targets the Indigenous community. Applicants who are unused to standard testing regimes which include psychometric testing are supported through a 3-week program to familiarise them with the test environment. This practice recognises the potential of the applicant to perform successfully in a role in the rail industry. Such a program, based on recognition of the potential of indigenous applicants to successfully take on positions in rail, involved identifying what skills and knowledge are required for the recruitment testing process as distinct from the job itself:
‘We do specifically target the aboriginal and indigenous community. We do a special apprenticeship campaign and we also do what we call a pre-apprenticeship campaign. We find ... that particular community have a lot of trouble getting through, because they’re not used to a testing environment. So we run what’s called a pre-apprenticeship campaign, so we work with them and get them comfortable using tests and practising tests and ... being in that sort of environment under that sort of time limit. That’s a three week course that we run, and then we ask them to sit the general testing and put them through the process. That’s been quite successful. We run it every year and we probably get between ten to twenty apprenticeships out of that particular demographic’. (Recruitment manager, passenger rail operator)
As an example, some workers - non-indigenous, indigenous, migrant and Australian born - are good at their job but may have trouble writing down all of their skills and experience according to resume or job application requirements. To improve access for people with limited literacy skills, organisations can make adjustments to allow individuals to receive support when preparing documents so that their skills and knowledge are appropriately recognised.
Steve wanted to apply for a construction job on a rail project. He had experience working as a security officer but no formal qualifications. He was not confident about putting together a résumé. With an experienced assessor, Steve could have been guided through the process with a potentially positive outcome.
Equitable skills recognition requires strategies for appreciating the different ways in which culturally and linguistically diverse applicants and employees may present their skills, and seeing the possibilities rather than the deficiencies in difference. Shortfalls in recognising the prior knowledge and skills of migrants are a barrier to effectively embedding migrants in Australian workplaces.