Adult new­com­ers more likely to be job­less

Cana­di­ans and younger im­mi­grants en­joy greater suc­cess in labour mar­kets

Vancouver Sun - - BUSI­NESS - BY DARAH HANSEN da­hansen@van­cou­ver­ With files from Post­media News

For years it’s been a com­mon com­plaint among new­com­ers to Canada that the lack of recog­ni­tion of for­eign cre­den­tials, in­clud­ing school­ing and job ex­pe­ri­ence, has held them back in the labour mar­ket.

Now a new study out of Mon­treal has more dis­cour­ag­ing news for adult im­mi­grants hop­ing to cash in on the prom­ise of a new land.

The In­sti­tute for Re­search on Pub­lic Pol­icy has found that, even with post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion from a Canadian in­sti­tu­tion, new­com­ers who ar­rive in Canada over the age of 18 are more likely to be un­der­em­ployed, or even un­em­ployed, than both their Cana­di­an­born peers and those who come to the coun­try at an ear­lier age.

“ The ear­lier in life im­mi­grants ar­rive, the more their aca­demic paths will re­sem­ble those of their Canadian-born coun­ter­parts, and the eas­ier it will be for them to mas­ter one of the of­fi­cial lan­guages in Canada,” said Maude Boulet, one of the study’s au­thors and an ex­pert in in­dus­trial re­la­tions at the Uni­ver­sité de Mon­tréal.

Co-author Brahim Boudar­bat, a for­mer Univer­sity of B. C. labour eco­nom­ics pro­fes­sor who now teaches at UdeM, said the dif­fer­ence comes down largely to lin­guis­tic abil­ity and cul­tural in­te­gra­tion.

“ One in­ter­est­ing thing that we found is that im­mi­grants who come very young make al­most the same [ ed­u­ca­tion] choices as those who are Cana­di­an­born do” when it comes to fields and lev­els of study, Boudar­bat said.

“ It matches the na­tive labour mar­ket.”

Adult im­mi­grants lack that ad­van­tage.

Most must learn ei­ther French or English when they ar­rive, Boudar­bat said. Even among those who come to the coun­try with some level of flu­ency, “ the qual­ity of the lan­guage is not the same,” he said.

“ Some peo­ple sug­gest that you can get a Canadian univer­sity de­gree with a low level of lan­guage, but maybe you can­not get a good job,” he said.

The eco­nomic news was slightly more hope­ful for adult im­mi­grants in Bri­tish Columbia, where, at 89.3 per cent, the group boasted the high­est em­ploy­ment suc­cess rate across the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the study. Among Canadian-born work­ers in the prov­ince, the em­ploy­ment rate was closer to 92 per cent.

Cu­ri­ously, B. C. im­mi­grant youth were least likely to be em­ployed com­pared to oth­ers in the coun­try. The em­ploy­ment rate among young new­com­ers in the prov­ince was just 87.3 per cent, com­pared to 96 per cent in On­tario and 90.4 per cent in Quebec.

“ I can’t ex­plain what is go­ing on there,” Boudar­bat said of the num­bers.

Older new­com­ers to B. C. are also less likely than im­mi­grants else­where in the coun­try to at­tain post­grad­u­ate de­grees.

In­deed, only 17.4 per cent pur­sued a mas­ter’s or PhD in B. C., com­pared to 45.9 per cent of those liv­ing in Mon­treal and 30.8 per cent in the Prairies.

“ I think this is a good thing for im­mi­grants in B. C., to not nec­es­sar­ily spend a long time study­ing and look­ing for higher de­grees that don’t nec­es­sar­ily pay in the labour mar­ket,” Boudar­bat said.

Na­tion­ally, peo­ple born in Canada with col­lege diplo­mas had a 91.8 per cent em­ploy­ment rate, the study showed. Those who im­mi­grated as a mi­nor had an em­ploy­ment rate of 92.6 per cent, and those com­ing to Canada as adults were em­ployed at a 90.6 per cent rate.

For those with bach­e­lor’s de­grees, the em­ploy­ment rate was 91.5 per cent for those born in Canada, 94.2 per cent for those who im­mi­grated younger than 18, and 81.6 per cent for those ar­riv­ing at 18 or older.

Among those with mas­ter’s de­grees or doc­tor­ates, the em­ploy­ment rate was 93 per cent for Canadian-born peo­ple, 89.1 per cent for those who im­mi­grated as youths, and 88.5 per cent for those who im­mi­grated as adults.

Boudar­bat said im­mi­grants who came to Canada as youths tend to be more flex­i­ble in the jobs they will take than those born in this coun­try and also those who ar­rive later in life. But this was also thought to be a fac­tor in the study’s find­ing that younger im­mi­grants are less likely to be in jobs re­lated to their area of ed­u­ca­tion.

The study rec­om­mends that im­mi­grants of all ages more care­fully con­sider their fields of study based on the needs of the labour mar­ket. It also calls on the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to favour younger new­com­ers in its labour-mar­ket­based ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion. Boudar­bat said this would in­clude adult im­mi­grants younger than 30, and also those with chil­dren. He said other stud­ies have shown that younger adult im­mi­grants tend to have more suc­cess in the labour mar­ket than older im­mi­grants. The is­sue of Canadian em­ploy­ers rec­og­niz­ing for­eign ed­u­ca­tional cre­den­tials was fac­tored out by the study’s method­ol­ogy. It was based on Statis­tics Canada data on the em­ploy­ment sta­tus of peo­ple in 2005 who had com­pleted Canadian post­sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion in 2000.

Down­load the full study at

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