Bridging the Immigrant Employment Gap
Everybody’s heard the story about the brain-surgeon cabbie or the chemical-engineer office cleaner. These are the Canadian immigrants who arrive on our shores qualified to the gills but unable to find employment in their new country to match the skills they brought from their old.
Immigrants move to Canada because they’ve heard it’s got lots of jobs and generous benefits. It’s why we take in about 250,000 newcomers a year — more, on a per-capita basis, than any other industrial country. By 2031, StatsCan suggests, one in three workers could be foreign-born.
But these folks’ integration into a new society comes with myriad challenges. In addition to securing employment, there are language, cultural and educational hurdles to be overcome.
According to a July 2008 report, 54% of people who’ve settled in Canada since 2002 have been university-educated. But the unemployment rate for these souls, as of 2007, was quadruple that of Canadian-born residents with university degrees.
Some resources and advice to help this population find its employment feet.
• The Canadian Immigration Integration Program (www.newcomersuccess.ca/index.php/about-ciip?lang=en-GB) is a federal government initiative to help newly landed workers find jobs that recognize their experience and education.
• Municipally based programs, such as those on offer from the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (www.triec.ca), offer workshops on such esoterica as how to behave in a business meeting, and operate mentoring programs that pair skilled immigrants with established pros.
• Planning to Work in Canada (www.credentials.gc.ca/immigrants/workbook/index.asp) is a government-produced workbook for individuals who’ve recently arrived.
• Work in Canada (www.canadavisa.com) is an online resource managed by the Montreal-based immigration law firm, Campbell Cohen. It has a slew of resources for foreign-born workers struggling with the transition.
• The Best Employers for New Canadians competition (www.canadastop100.com) recognizes the country’s best employers for recent immigrants, as assessed by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
• Professional Networks for Immigrants (www.settlement.org/sys/faqs_detail.asp?k=WORK_CUL&faq_id=4001352) is a list of networks run by internationally trained professionals in a range of professions, useful for anyone looking to develop relationships in their field.
• Alternative Jobs to Regulated Professions (www.settlement.org/alternativejobs/default.aspx) suggests non-regulated job alternatives for different regulated professions.
• Staffing and recruitment outsourcing firms are excellent first and final stops for new Canadians. Check out the bounty at www.keenconsulting.ca.