James Andrews, Manager

James arrived in Australia on 17 August 2009. He has been employed as a manager with People Power Cleaning (PPC) since November 2010. This is his first paid employment since arriving in the country. Prior to coming to Australia, he spent 10 years working for various international NGOs as an administrator in his home country of Liberia. James has had a difficult time trying to find employment in Australia. As is often the case with people immigrating from less developed to more developed countries, James’ post-secondary education—which is in public administration and management—is not recognized in Australia. He also felt that his inability to prove his proficiency in English meant that people would assume his language skills would not be adequate for the positions he applied for. His experience applying to PPC was different. PPC hires refugees who are often in a similar situation to James. They recognized his experience and abilities and were specifically looking for someone with an African background, ‘they wanted someone who would easily relate to the other workers’. This position will enable James to gain valuable experience in Australia and to further develop his skills managing people, writing reports, and providing customer service. The fact that it is ‘very difficult for people to find work’ is partly what drew James to his current position at PPC, ‘it is good to work with them and help them in this manner. Each time we get a contract for work it is a really good feeling.’

“James feels that PPC has a lot of potential and plays an important role in the community, ‘I want to fight to make this a bigger institution, where a lot of [people] can get started because it really really helps them’ but he also recognizes that this will take time and resources.”

One of the greatest challenges James has in his current role is the number of different responsibilities he has. For instance, often the workers don’t have drivers licenses so James is responsible for driving the workers to their jobs. He is hoping that eventually there will be funds for two additional positions so that he ‘could spend more time marketing, finding new business and improving the capacity of the workers.’