New Migration Destination: Characteristics of Mexican Migrants in Australia and Their Insertion in the Labor Market of Professionals

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
CLM.3.06 (Clement House)
M. Laura Vazquez Maggio, UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico
Major economic changes in Mexico starting in the 1980s and intensifying in the 1990s, have had a significant impact on the lives of working class and middle class Mexicans. A fast incorporation of the Mexican society to processes of globalization is strongly linked to an increased participation in migration flows not only of new sectors of society but also to the emergence of new migration destinations. Although the migration of Mexicans has received considerable attention both in scholarly and non-scholarly circles, such attention has largely been limited to those Mexicans that move to the United States. Instead, this paper focuses on the migration of Mexicans to Australia, a phenomenon which has not been studied before.

The number of Mexicans in Australia may be small compared to other migrant groups in Australia, and of course compared to their numbers in the United States; nevertheless, the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a significant increase in the number of Mexicans in Australia over the last 30 years, and most dramatically, in the past 15 years. This migration flow increase is mirrored by significant economic changes in Mexico since the 1980s, associated with the implementation of a new economic model that has reshaped the structure of Mexican society. The present era in Mexico registers a marked increase in income inequality, a higher concentration of wealth among the elite of the population and a contraction of formal employment opportunities. These socio-economic conditions have given rise to major social disruption and numerous adaptive solutions among the Mexican middle class and professionals, including international migration to new destinations. This paper shows that professional Mexicans are finding Australia an attractive option for relocation.

The aims of this paper are two-folded: firstly, to examine the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of Mexican migrants in Australia; secondly, to analyze the patterns of insertion of this group into the Australian labor market. Based on figures from the Australian 2011 Census and on an extensive survey questionnaire (conducted by the author) which covered nearly 20 per cent of adult Mexicans residents in Australia, this research found that this group of immigrants identify themselves as professionals, with white-collar jobs, university qualifications and English proficiency and are therefore able, with relative ease, to integrate into the mainstream of their host society. The study identified the way in which the professional identity of middle-class Mexicans tends to be de-territorializable and mobile and it is shown that overall Mexicans in Australia are a successful group in terms of employment outcomes. Despite this relatively successful insertion into the Australian labor market, migrants faced several obstacles, particularly when they first joined the Australian labor market. This paper explores processes of deprofessionalization among Mexicans in Australia, and the main barriers to employment for skilled migrants such as: needing Australian experience to find their first job in Australia, not getting their skills recognized and the barriers associated with not having English as their mother tongue.