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4.1 Introduction

'We cannot manage without them' (W.F. TU 1976:3)

Although several educated and well-trained Maltese came to Australia over the years, the vast majority of migrants came from low socio-economic background with little education and no training. What training they had was unrecognized. Males tended to gravitate to the factories, or to the wharves, while the females were employed as machinists or performed other low-technology type of work. In this respect, they were no different from other migrants from the surrounding Mediterranean.

"... two-thirds of the immigrants from Malta, Italy, Greece and Yugoslavia have been unskilled or semi- skilled on arrival. These immigrants flow into the low paid, low status manual jobs in manufacturing, building and construction, with little chance of advancement. There is thus a clear ethnic division in the character of the work performed by migrants, and hence in their contribution to the Australian economy." (Collins, 1975, p113)

In contrast to other South Europeans, many Maltese had an elementary knowledge of English, and this no doubt helped them in their first years of settlement. They could ask their way about and perhaps read a notice. However, this knowledge has been much exaggerated, for the majority had had only the most elementary education and could with difficulty read or speak English. Knowledge of English was hardly ever sufficient to enable Maltese migrants to achieve higher levels of management and has had adverse repercussions in their translation and interpreter services available for other language groups have been noticeably scarce for Maltese.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990


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