Well-qualified young mainland immigrants have difficulty finding jobs because of cultural discrimination, according to a study released yesterday. The Hong Kong Salvation Army study found many immigrants were frustrated because they had to take low-paid jobs that required little skill. It said employers refused to recognise qualifications from the mainland. Despite their training and youth, many could find jobs only in restaurants or shops, said Ng Wai-ching, the study team leader. 'They are also discriminated against by their employers or colleagues who seldom show confidence in their ability. Their accents and weak English have been misinterpreted as a sign of lacking intellectual power,' she said. As a result, skilled immigrants lost confidence and motivation for their jobs and became self-defeated, Ms Ng said. In one case, a mainland primary school principal had to work in a restaurant after he failed many job interviews. And Wen Xing, 23, who graduated from a mainland university in electronic engineering, said he could find only a sales job because his qualifications were not recognised here. '[The employers] think mainlanders don't have professional sense and are awkward in many aspects. I want to find a job that is related to my training. I don't think I have much chance to use my knowledge for the job I am doing now,' said Mr Wen, who has been in Hong Kong for three years. Restaurant waitress Amy Lam, 18, added: 'My co-workers don't have confidence in me. Their attitude changes after they hear my accent. Some customers treat me badly simply because I am from the mainland.' In a Home Affairs Department survey, 7.6 per cent of 10,894 immigrants who arrived this year hold university degrees.