Where Australia’s ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ missed the point No. 1 – the threat to education is real

Australia finally has ‘An India Economic Strategy to 2035’ which is a good thing, with trade now declining to around A$14 billion.

A big part of that trade is education, with Indians big users of our universities and colleges.

The strategy mentions “visa employment conditions” as a potential threat – it should have been stronger. Changing visa conditions have had the intended consequence of employers now being uncertain and scared to offer employment to overseas graduates.

This is bad for Australia long term. Australian governments have one department discouraging Indian students (immigration) and the rest of the country hoping we can get more – time for the government to step in.

But even worse is that Indian graduates are not prepared for employment in Australia – and the report missed this key point. Their CV’s are not up to scratch, their English is difficult to understand, few have learnt presentation skills and their self descriptions often miss out their most attractive employment qualities. From our pilot study we know that these things can be quickly fixed, giving Indians a real chance of getting the jobs they want.

If this employment mismatch continues, we will have thousands of Indian graduates of Australian universities taking unskilled jobs – and word will get back to India – “don’t come to study in Australia because you will not be offered a job”. 

The report did call for our universities and businesses to work together to provide employment for students while they study – this is good. But the report made no mention of how unemployable these students are when sitting opposite corporate recruiters.

Missing this point was a big miss by the report. In addition to fixing the visa debacle, the government urgently needs to call the universities in, demanding a solution on employability skills.

Otherwise our trade will decline even further.