Migration for Achievement: The Life Strategies of IT Professional Migrants in Australia

Friday, 20 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Olga OLEINIKOVA, University of Sydney, Australia, University of Technology Sydney, Australia
Based on 25 interviews with highly skilled immigrants in Australia, this paper examines the migration of IT professionals from Ukraine to Australia in the post-communist period between 2004 and 2013. The focus is on the popular among the interviewed IT migrants the dynamic, risk-taking and future-oriented ‘achievement life strategy’ that is structurally and individually framed and enacted it with the help of migration. The migration experience of the IT professionals is examined across Ukraine and Australia in three ways. First, the paper sets out the migration policy context for migration and the formation of the achievement life strategy: (1) the emergence of the IT industry in Ukraine during the early 2000s and the growth of offshoring (outsourcing) in Ukraine after 2003, in combination with (2) shifts in Australian migration policy triggered by the growth of the innovation economy, a demand for highly-skilled migrants and decreases in the Australia’s assessment level for Ukraine. Second, it examines migration decision-making and the individual motivations, values, aims and agencies that the Ukrainians formed in their country of origin. Third, the paper explores how achievement life strategies are recreated after migration by looking into the migrants’ adaptation, occupational outcomes, language and national identity, future plans and aspirations. The narratives of the highly skilled IT migrants form a collective story of well-integrated members of Australian society, active agents of social and economic life who demonstrate effective usage of new opportunities that emerge in the recipient environment. Given their capacity to successfully maintain their social and economic status after migration, along with their positive contributions to Australian society in terms of social cohesion, innovation and economic production, this group can be considered a “brain-gain” for Australia.