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New hope for Riverina migrants

Riverina TAFE is running migrant-specific courses in a bid to improve the employment prospects of the region's growing number of newly-arrived immigrants.

Riverina TAFE is running migrant-specific courses in a bid to improve the employment prospects of the region's growing number of newly-arrived immigrants.

The courses combine English language classes with vocational training, thereby addressing the common dilemma that many migrants experience of not being able to speak English. This is often a major obstacle towards gaining employment.

Currently a class of 15 men from various countries in Africa and Asia are participating in a nine-week Construction Essentials course at Wagga TAFE.

"In the past we've run a few vocational courses that were targeted at women, and we thought we needed to do something that's aimed at men," said Elizabeth Stott, Riverina TAFE's education pathways head teacher. "They really want to get work but they haven't got any experience in Australia."

However, some of the men did have experience in building and tiling in their home countries.

"We're hoping that the (Construction Essentials) course is a starting point that could lead to apprenticeships or employment for some of the students," Ms Stott said. "They're very hard workers."Riverina TAFE has already offered courses that were aimed at migrants with limited English language skills, which have proven to be extremely popular. These included courses in hospitality, children's services, panel and paint and horticulture.