Is living in Australia better than in Asia? Is the grass greener there?
There are no domestic maids, but cars are a lot cheaper and fresh graduates can earn up to AUD$80,000 per annum.
Malaysian Jaslyn Lai, 27, has been living in Australia now for almost eight years.
She is a Journalism and Communications graduate with a Masters degree – and is currently living in Sydney with her husband.
I recently caught up with Jaslyn, now a Music and English teacher, to find out what life is like in Sydney.
Jaslyn, what is the job market like now in Australia?
The job market is pretty bad now. A lot of people are losing their jobs. Many companies are closing down and some are getting rid of employees who are too expensive – to save cost.
How easy is it, for fresh graduates to get a job in their field of study?
It’s not easy. The only way for fresh graduates to get a job is through Graduate Programmes, but these have strict requirements. You need to be a Citizen or a Permanent Resident, have a good Grade Point Average (GPA) and then submit an essay stating why you would like to join their company.
If you’re selected, you need to have at least three interviews. For the first interview, you will be grouped with a few other chosen applicants to test your practical skills in a few activities. If they select you, you will then go through a second interview where you will have an interview with the Recruitment Manager. If you are successful, you will then go for a third interview with a panel of managers, before the job is offered.
Another way to get a job is by applying for entry level roles, which is harder. Most entry level roles require at least one to two years’ of experience. Even if you were to find roles that do not require experience, the competition is very high and employers are picky in choosing the right employees for their organization. It also usually takes more than a year for fresh graduates to get a job.
In order to get one, you need connections in the field. But you can call a company randomly and volunteer to work for free for a year or two. You may then land a better job after that.
What about for non-Australian graduates without a Permanent Residency Visa? Is it easy for them to get a job?
Most employers want employees who will stick with the company for years, as they don’t want to waste time training people again and again – so you really need to be a Permanent Resident to apply successfully for a job.
What sort of people is more sought after by employers now?
Accountants, Nurses, Midwives, Doctors and Hairstylists
They need a lot of accountants for small and big businesses as well. There are not a lot of accountancy graduates. Not a lot of Australians do accountancy. Their forte is usually in the more creative fields, such as marketing, public relations, journalism, film and photography. Although some Australians do accountancy, not a lot of them choose to work in this field.
Hospitals are running short of nurses and midwives. The number of patients are massive in hospitals and they have a long waiting list. Nurses and midwives are always busy attending to heaps of cases. So they require nurses and midwives to help get things done quickly. The same applies to doctors.
Hairstylists are needed too. Not a lot of people want to be hair stylists. This is due to the relatively low pay.
What is the current average starting salary (AUD$) for a graduate in Australia?
It depends on your qualifications. I would say it ranges from 30k to 80k per annum, depending on which job. Mining industry graduates usually earn more.
What is the main thing that Australian employers are looking for, when hiring executive staff?
Years of experience to demonstrate that they know the industry. For example, if it’s a marketing executive role, the applicants would have to demonstrate that they know the marketing industry and also that they have a proven track record, such as knowing where to market the products and services. You also need to have an understanding of management, solid exposure to marketing strategies and execution. As well, strong experience in marketing, such as brand management are required. Generally candidates have to have expertise in the role that they are applying for, understand the industry, have solid experience and management skills
If a Singaporean or Malaysian person with say, five years of work experience were to migrate to Australia, would he or she find work easily?
It depends and it’ll be hard for the person to adjust to the work environment. The most important feature that one should have is excellent communication skills – both verbal and written. It usually takes a year to land yourself a job. And you need to have an excellent cover letter and resume. It’s all based on promoting yourself to the recruiters.
Is it easy to make friends with the locals?
It depends. Most Australians are usually friendly and talkative. It all depends on how good your communication skills are and how interesting you are.
I’ve never had a problem making friends with the locals, as I’m always talking and I have a fun personality. So it really depends. You need to make friends with at least one local to experience Australian life. Generally, the locals are fun people who are worth keeping as friends.
What’s the food like in Sydney? Are you able to go to a nice, reasonable priced eatery when your Asian food cravings hit?
We have plenty of Asian restaurants in Sydney. There is a Korean town in the city, where there are plenty of Korean restaurants. They have a Malaysian town in the city as well, full of Malaysian delicacies such as Mamak that serves mamak food, nonya restaurants that serve Malaysian and Singaporean food, and many others. They also have Japanese restaurants, Vietnamese, Thai and Indian restaurants and so on.
There’s plenty of Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian and Thai restaurants at Kingsford and Randwick, where it’s close to the University of New South Wales. Most university students usually live around that area – which is closer to the less expensive Asian restaurants.
Most of the Australian food such as steaks are usually more expensive than Asian food, so Australians tend to eat at Asian restaurants too. They only eat at Australian restaurants for special events such as birthdays, anniversary or Valentines Day celebrations.
How expensive is accommodation in Sydney now?
Pretty expensive and it depends on where you live. In the Eastern Suburbs, for renting a two bedroom apartment, it can range from AUD$400 per week.
In the Western Suburbs, a two bedroom apartment is about AUD$300 per week
In the North, the same apartment would be AUD$550 per week
For the Southern Suburbs, it would cost AUD$350 per week
In the city, a two bedroom apartment would be roughly AUD$650-$700 per week
How about the general cost of living? How expensive is it to live in Sydney?
Usually AUD$500 – $700 a month (for a couple) would be spent on living expenses, excluding house rental.
Groceries usually costs around AUD$200 per month (for a couple), depending on how much you eat.
Transportation to work and other places via bus or train is at least AUD$100 plus per month (depending on how far you travel)
If you choose to get a car, it’s even worse. Petrol costs from at least AUD$30 dollars to $60 per week, depending on how far you travel. Insurance costs a bomb. You need to pay your six monthly or yearly road tax too, depending on the car you drive and it can range from AUD$800 to $2000 per year.
Other expenses include sociable dinners with friends, movie tickets and last minute dinners if you don’t have time to cook.
After having lived in Australia for more than seven years, would you say that the grass is greener there?
Only sometimes. It’s harder to survive here, earning money is difficult and we have to do everything ourselves such as the laundry, household chores and cooking. We don’t have maids to help us.
But we definitely earn more here and seldom have late overtime work in the office, which is a good thing and it’s easier to travel to other countries , since we earn more. And we get to buy properties once we earn enough. In fact, my husband and I have just bought a townhouse even though we’ve only been working for only about two years – we just got married last January.
It’s quite hard to get a job though. Most people can’t get a relevant job and end up working at departmental stores or grocery stores such as Woolworths and Coles.
In Malaysia and Singapore, it’s so much easier to get a job. It’s an instant thing for us. You have a maid to help you most of the time. Even if you don’t, it’s not too expensive to eat out, compared to Australia. The weather doesn’t change in Malaysia and Singapore either and you have connections when it comes to jobs. Only bad thing is that you have to work and toil!
Any tips you can give to people who want to migrate to Australia for work?
Study your industry in Australia before you migrate and get a job before you go there. Or think of a business you would like to venture into, that would be successful in Australia.
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