2 September 2023

Canberra providing a world of work opportunities for international students

| Laura Liu
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ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the multicultural city of Canberra is home to people from about 160 countries. Photo: ACBC ACT.

From its origins as a “government town”, Canberra has transformed into a vibrant city with more job vacancies than unemployed people, paving the way for international students to explore a multitude of career paths, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.

Speaking at an Australian China Business Council (ACBC) ACT event, Mr Barr said strong growth in the information technology sector, professional services, creative industries and advanced technologies such as quantum computing, cyber security, space technology and renewable energy was creating job opportunities.

“In the past five years, the workforce has grown by more than 15 per cent, and three of every four of these new jobs are outside of the government sector,” he said.

“Canberra is a diverse and increasingly globally connected city with opportunities.”

The event at Hotel Realm brought together academics, government representatives, businesses and students in the Canberra region to share insights and showcase working opportunities, including internships, casual work, and post-graduation careers.

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The Federal Government has extended post-study work rights from two to four years for select bachelor degrees, from three to five years for select masters degrees, and from four to six years for all doctoral degrees.

“Canberra’s higher education institutions offer more than 160 courses that are eligible for extended post-study work rights,” Mr Barr said.

“By studying, living, and working in Canberra, graduates can apply for an additional year of post-study work rights given our designation as the capital city.”

employment opportunity panel of five

Chris Gartner, Shawn, Jane Golly, Catherine Ng, Kai Zhang share their insights into employment opportunities in Canberra. Photo: ACBC ACT.

Chris Gartner, pro vice-chancellor of future students at the University of Canberra, explained how international students could effectively prepare for the workforce while still on campus.

He emphasised that the employability journey began as soon as students stepped through the door.

Mr Gartner said students should ask themselves the following questions.

“What do I know about myself?

“What do I know about the industry that I want to work for?

“How do I get to meet the market employers and demonstrate to them that I understand where my skills fit?

“Progressively answering and addressing those three questions as you go through a couple of years of study is really what we focus on taking students through from UC.”

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Addressing the critical skill shortages in Canberra, general manager of CIT Solutions Catherine Ng highlighted the crucial role of vocational education (VET) and as cost-effective and alternative educational pathways for students, seamlessly linking to universities.

“We require more skilled chefs, nurses, and accountants. As a government-owned VET provider, the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) equips graduates with hands-on skills through industry placements.

“This helps them stand out to employers and overcome the hurdles faced by ‘sea turtles’ – Chinese students returning after studying abroad,” she said.

She highlighted Agnes, a CIT graduate, who embodied this success. “Agnes realised her dream as a ‘Dietitian in the Kitchen’ through CIT’s cookery program and her prior bachelor studies in Nutrition and Dietetics.”

“Having graduated, she now manages the restaurant where she trained, living her dream on a skilled work visa in Canberra. Agnes’s ambitions extend to pursuing a PhD in Nutrition and Dietetics,” she said.

As a former international student and current owner of Maxwell & Co. in Canberra, Kai Zhang said the city not only prepared individuals for the workforce, but also brought about a transformative impact extending beyond professional domains.

Kai said the warm and approachable nature of Canberrans enabled students easy interaction with accomplished individuals in society. This exchange provided invaluable insights into potential career paths.

“Canberra is a place where you’re going to be considered as a person more than just a number,” he said.

For more information about upcoming events, employment and business prospects, visit ACBC ACT.

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All cities work from the primary dollar. What is the industry that generates the first dollar and then they spans and the other jobs are created. With Canberra, the primary dollar will always be Fed Gov and Defence work, then these workers spend, and chefs/nurses etc are required. If Government jobs reduce, then there is lesser need for chefs etc and vice versa. What is ACT Labor doing to increase the primary dollar jobs in ACT?

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