Significant differences may be perceived in the occupational pathways of each of the three waves. The occupational path of the first group moved over a long period, through the stages of hawking, shop-keeping, working in manufacturing industries, through to professional and managerial positions. The pathway of second wave immigrants was marked by movement from working in manufacturing industries to ownership of small businesses, then to larger businesses in the service sector. The occupational path of the second wave immigrants has been shorter than that of the first wave, and typically extends to just two generations with some members of the second generation gaining access to professional and managerial positions. A major discontinuity may be seen in the unemployment problems experienced by significant numbers of third wave immigrants, which are continuing to have profound negative effects on the settlement of this group.
The occupations of Lebanese-born persons in Australia reveal a spread across all occupational groups. The professional and managerial groups account for some 30.3 per cent of the occupations of all Lebanese-born. The other groups include clerical, sales and service workers at all levels (22.1 per cent); tradespersons and related workers (16.8 per cent); and labourers and related workers (11.7 per cent). This pattern reflects a decline in manufacturing industries and an increase in service industries and professional occupations.
The unemployment rate for Lebanese-born in Australia continues to be high. This reflects the decline in manufacturing industries that traditionally provided the first jobs for unskilled Lebanese migrants in Melbourne. It is also affected by the disruption to their education and employment experienced by many third wave settlers during the Civil War.
A recent study of the second generation in Australia illustrates the educational and occupational mobility of second generation Lebanese whose parents arrived before 1981. For example, the Lebanon-born stay at school and university longer than the Australian-born and higher proportions achieve tertiary qualifications than those with fathers born in Australia the United Kingdom or Western Europe. As would be expected, there is a striking increase in educational qualifications and professional occupations across the two generations.
The educational and labour market experiences among the Lebanese-born and their children reflect a polarisation, with some gaining tertiary qualifications leading to professional and managerial employment while others experience intergenerational unemployment and poverty.