Immigrants are at a disadvantage when they look for work in Canada even if they are university-educated, according to a Statistics Canada study released today.
Twenty-eight thousand immigrants who arrived in Canada between 2002 and 2007 received their highest degrees in Canada; however, only about three-quarters found employment. That compares to the 90-per-cent employment rate of Canadian-born and educated workers.
And for immigrants who received their education outside of Canada, the situation is bleaker. Employment rates for those educated in Europe (73.8%), Asia (65.5%), Latin America (59.7%), and Africa (50.9%) were even lower than for those who attended school in Canada. Those educated in the United States found employment at a rate of 77.8 per cent.
Statcan analyst Jason Gilmore attributed the lower employment rate to a lack of foreign credential recognition, Canadian work experience, and knowledge of the Canadian labour market. Language barriers were also a big issue.
Gilmore shed light on the particularly low employment rates of Latin American and African immigrants.
“Many (immigrants) from Latin America or Africa are refugees or were refugees when they came to Canada. We could make a bit of an inference there about the impact of being a refugee,” he said.
“For example, if you are a refugee and had to leave your country quickly depending on the circumstances, it’s not likely you have all of your credentials with you. And it’s harder to verify where (refugees) received their degree, because there could be some disconnect with their home-country institution.”
The Statcan study also attributes the difficulty finding employment to variables like age and school attendance.
Immigrants who landed in Canada with degrees tend to be five years younger than their Canadian-born counterparts, which means they likely have less experience in the workforce—especially in the Canadian market—to draw upon when seeking a job.
One in five immigrants with university degrees also pursue additional education when they arrive in Canada. Only about one in 15 Canadian-born degree holders pursue another degree in Canada. And while immigrants are earning that extra degree, Gilmore said, they tend to work and look for work less than their Canadian-born counterparts.
The study also concludes that after university-educated immigrants spend more time in Canada, their likelihood of finding work catches up to Canadian-born rates.
According to the study, 37 per cent of immigrants had university degrees, compared to only 22 per cent of Canadian-born citizens, and over half of immigrants who arrived in Canada since 2002 have degrees.