Having a doctoral degree earned outside of Canada and lengthy international work experience can be impediments for skilled immigrants in landing jobs here, says a new study examining the key factors affecting newcomers’ employment rates.
The survey of 6,402 skilled immigrants found 80 per cent of respondents were employed, most in permanent jobs, but only 39.1 per cent had positions with duties similar to what they had before immigration. Those with previous Canadian work experience were 2.4 times more likely to be employed than those without.
Only 71.5 per cent of foreign doctorate-degree holders had a job compared to 85.9 per cent of their peers with a diploma and 82.1 per cent of those with a bachelor’s degree, according to the report by the World Education Services, a non-profit organization that evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education credentials.
Skilled immigrants with more than 15 years of international work experience had a 72.1 per cent employment rate, more than 10 per cent lower than their counterparts who had less than five years under their belt.
“Canada is recruiting skilled immigrants, yet losing out when the labour market does not leverage what they bring,” said the report, “Who is Succeeding in the Canadian Labour Market?” released on Wednesday.
“A large proportion of respondents have had to change sectors and are working at a lower level of seniority. This issue is not a new one, but it is increasingly urgent.”
The survey, conducted in 2018, was completed by 26,395 people who had contacted World Education Services for educational credential assessment toward their immigration application to Canada. The data in this study was drawn from respondents who were living here as permanent residents through one of the skilled immigration programs.
Skilled immigrants who worked in food services before coming to Canada had the highest employment rate, at 96.2 per cent, followed by those with a background in manufacturing (85.8 per cent), information technology (85 per cent), financial services and banking (80.8 per cent) and corporate management (80 per cent).
However, when it comes to securing jobs commensurate with prior skills and experience, the report found that those who worked in information technology before immigrating were more likely to be working in similar jobs than others. Those in a regulated profession are also less successful in getting commensurate jobs.
Where an immigrant completed their degree is also crucial. For example, those who were educated in the United States were more likely to be in comparable work than those who obtained their degrees elsewhere
The report also ranked employment rates by an immigrant’s country of origin with those from the Philippines coming out on top, at 89.7 per cent, followed by their counterparts from Brazil (89.2 per cent), Jamaica (85.5 per cent), India (78.1 per cent) and Iran (70.7 per cent). Among the worst performers of the top 10 respondent countries of origin were those from Egypt, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh and Nigeria.
“Our economic future depends on our ability to fully recognize immigrants’ prior experience, education and skills, and to ensure they can realize their potential. We cannot afford to pass over immigrant talent,” said Shamira Madhany, managing director for World Education Services Canada.
“Employers need better tools to assess the qualifications of immigrants with many years of international experience, especially when they’re hiring for more senior positions rather than at the entry-level. We need to explore tools and approaches nationally and locally to support employers to translate immigrants’ skills and prior international experience to the Canadian workplace.”
Nicholas Keung is a Toronto-based reporter covering immigration. Follow him on Twitter: @nkeung