JG - It's a tough time finding good jobs - New report highlights problems for immigrants
It's a tough time finding good jobs - New report highlights problems for immigrants
published: Sunday May 13, 2007
Neil Armstrong, Sunday Gleaner Writer
While most new immigrants agree that life in Canada has lived up to their expectations, many indicate that their greatest difficulty is finding an adequate job (46 per cent), even after four years in Canada. Many also list learning English or French as a difficulty (26 per cent).
Recently, Statistics Canada released two new reports from the third and final wave of the 'Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada'. It was designed to study how newly arrived immigrants adjust over time to living in Canada.
Eighty-four per cent of new immigrants were positive about their decision to come to Canada; 32 per cent settled permanently for the quality of life; 20 per cent to be close to family and friends; 18 per cent for future prospects for their family in Canada; and nine per cent for the peaceful nature of the country.
Some 12,000 immigrants aged 15 and over were interviewed between April 2001 and May 2002, about six months after their arrival. In 2003, about 9,300 of the same immigrants were interviewed again, about two years after their arrival. Two years later in 2005, about 7,700 of the same immigrants were interviewed a third time, four years after their arrival.
Although 15 per cent of economic immigrants - those selected for their education and professional skills - reported that their expectations of life in Canada had consistently been exceeded, only one third of family-class immigrants and refugees reported a similar feeling.
The study found that between seven and 24 months after arrival, 62 per cent of all new immigrants aged 25-44 had looked for a job,and that during the period, between 25-48 months after arrival, 53 per cent had done so. The majority reported that they experienced problems or difficulties when searching for employment.
The difficulties cited were lack of Canadian work experience (50 per cent); lack of contacts in the job market (37 per cent); lack of recognition of foreign experience (37 per cent); lack of recognition of foreign qualifications (35 per cent); and, language barriers (32 per cent).
In Ontario last month, a group of new immigrants gave the province's new Fairness Commissioner, Dr. Jean Augustine, an earful about the lack of recognition of their foreign experience/qualifications and the requirement for them to have Canadian experience. New Democratic Party (NDP) MPs Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) and Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina) are calling on the federal government to review the current immigration system, especially the selection process of skilled applicants.
"We are breaking a promise to new Canadians when they are unable to use their education and work experience in Canada," said Siksay, NDP's citizenship and immigration critic. "This creates serious problems, including the need for secure employment, steady income, and a stable quality of life. We must not turn our backs on immigrants at one of the most difficult times in their lives, the period when they are working to establish themselves and their families in Canada."
Among the immigrants who were admitted to Canada in the economic category, almost half (45 per cent) said finding employment was the greatest difficulty they faced while 15 per cent said it was learning English or French. Twenty-six per cent of refugees said finding employment was their greatest difficulty, and 30 per cent said it was learning English or French.
The second report - 'Knowledge of Official Languages among New Immigrants: How Important is it in the Labour Market?' - analyses the relationship between knowledge of the two languages and the chances of immigrants to find an 'appropriate' job.
The survey showed that the employment rate of immigrants aged 25-44 increased with higher levels of self-reported proficiency in spoken English for each of the survey's three waves. Immigrants who reported that their level of spoken English was good or very good were more likely to have a high-skill job, a job in the intended field, a job similar to one held before emigrating, and a job related to training or education.
It found that they also had higher wages, compared to immigrants whose spoken English level was not as good. This was true six months, two years and four years after immigrants' arrival in Canada.
However, the relationship between the self-reported ability to speak French and the chances of having an 'appropriate' job was not as strong, nor as persistent, the report indicated. In Quebec, the hourly earnings of immigrants who spoke English very well were generally higher, regardless of the level of French, than those of immigrants who did not speak either official language well.