Majed Al Zanad was four years into a medical degree when the war in Syria forced him to abandon his studies. Like many refugees, he is now facing the challenging process of getting his past experience recognised so he can resume his medical studies in Australia.
The young refugee is, however, one step closer to achieving his dream of becoming a doctor after participating in an ongoing series of workshops designed to help new arrivals find the best pathway back to their professional or education field of choice.
More than two dozen refugees participated in the most recent session in Fairfield, where TAFE South West Sydney Institute educators delivered information about the vocational and tertiary educational pathways available to them in Australia.
The workshop, which was a collaboration between SSI and CORE Community Services, also informed participants about the tools for assessing their current qualifications and experience against Australian standards, and showed them how to use that information to identify their skills or knowledge gaps.
SSI Manager Humanitarian Settlement Services (HSS) Yamamah Agha said the workshops would support skilled refugees to find meaningful employment in Australia that aligns with their skills and expertise.
“Refugees bring so many skills to Australia, but the complexity of having those skills recognised in Australia can often lead to underemployment,” Ms Agha said.
“Meaningful employment plays a large part in the successful settlement of refugees in terms of social and economic independence, and these workshops will help new arrivals achieve their full potential in Australia while also supporting the Australian labour market.”
Two other new arrivals who participated in the most recent workshop, Rita Nader and Samer Saadeh, said they left with information that would help them with their goal of resuming their work as engineers.
On arrival in Australia, the couple were presented with multiple options for getting their past experience and qualifications recognised and were now equipped with information to navigate Australia’s unfamiliar education system.
Ms Agha also made a special mention of the valuable case management support that new arrivals receive in the first 6–12 months of arriving in Australia, noting that it helps newly arrived refugees to prepare for the local jobs market.
New arrivals receive support with English language skills and are connected with job searching tools to help them to find work opportunities in Australia. They also receive support with resume writing and interviewing techniques and can contact their case manager for feedback.
CORE Community Services and SSI plan to offer the workshop on an ongoing basis to new arrivals like Mr Al Zanad, who left the session with information on a TAFE course that will help him fast track his return to university to complete his medical studies.