Why Hiring Internationals Students is a Good Idea

Did you know that Education is our third largest export in Australia?

A fair proportion of international students who head ‘down under’ stay on to live and work. One of the biggest challenges this cohort faces is the Australian job market, namely, how to convince an employer to take a punt on them. Pushback can include a perceived lack of local experience in their field, language, or communication issues together with uncertainty over work rights and visas.

Furthermore, there has been views that international student won’t necessarily stay in a role for a long time, so why bother investing in them? The latter reason is commonly used to push back, albeit likely, not in those direct terms.

Unfortunately, these assumptions are extremely unhelpful, and in some cases, are not true. 

Gradability, trading as Performance Education, is a business focused on providing graduates with the skills and opportunity to pursue the career of their choice (largely in an international student context), but we also practice what we preach by hiring ex-international students. Since 2014, we’ve hired 14 ex-international students in a variety of roles, ranging from admin to finance, operations, and IT. This doesn’t factor in any former international students who have since gained permanent residency and/or Australian citizenship. 

I’ve highlighted PE’s achievements in this space as a real-life example as I focus on ridding some of the myths or assumptions about hiring international students. 

On average the tenure of our ex-international student team members is just under two years (1.8 years) which is almost double that of a ‘local’ hire. DOUBLE. Let that sink in for a minute. 

What we’ve found is these team members are driven to succeed and completely dedicated to the cause, because they’ve been given an opportunity and they truly appreciate it. It makes me realise we also don’t highlight enough the journey, sacrifice and endeavour of international students – the norm is they move across the world, where the language is foreign and there are significant cultural differences – all for the dream of a better life/education and fledging career.

If you strip it back and look at it in this light, there are the makings of hungry, hardworking, dedicated, and loyal people – I mean, what more could a hiring company want in a potential employee?

So, the question quickly shifts to how do I go about employing an ex-international student? Do I need to have special permission or be a sponsor?” 

In most cases, the answer is no. And it’s much easier than you may realise.

A typical university graduate will transition from a Student Visa to a Temporary Graduate Visa (485 visa) which is valid for anywhere from two to four years depending on whether it’s a Bachelor or Higher Qualification. Allowing for processing time (which can be up to a year from when a person completes their degree) an employer can employ an ex-international student graduate for three to five years without the need to sponsor them. For context, that’s longer than most people stay in their first role post-graduation. 

Yes, I’ll be frank, there are some culture challenges with hiring international students, but our experience tells us if they’re given space to grow into their roles and are made to feel comfortable in their new environment, they will always find their feet. We have found our ex-international student hires are all active contributors to the team and bring real value to our wider business. 

If you get to the point where you feel you want to keep them on your team, as their Temporary Graduate Visa draws to a close, there are options for you to be able to but that’s for another time!

Control the Controllables

Dave Phua
CEO – Gradability

As Australia’s #1 Professional Year Provider, Gradability, trading as Performance Education, has helped over 30,000 ex-international students launch their professional careers in Australia. Our program, designed by industry professionals and recruiters, ensures our graduates are workforce ready so when they go to your business, they contribute from the get-go.

If you’re interested in hosting an intern to see how they can add value to your business, get in touch at internships@performance.edu.auor check out more information here!

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