A study by World Education Services (WES) has revealed that prospective immigrants to Canada are better educated and younger as a result of immigration changes in recent years. Prospective immigrants also initiate their credential assessments sooner than before in accordance with the recent changes in immigration rules, the study shows.
WES, an agency that evaluates immigrant credentials, did a survey of 28,851 prospective immigrants who were referred to it by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. The survey was designed to analyze the impact recent immigration policy changes had on immigrant profiles.
According to WES, 80% of its work was done for foreign-based candidates last year, a sharp increase from only 16% in 2012.
The survey, which involved a questionnaire completed by 3,200 candidates, also reveals that 95% of the prospective immigrants to Canada belonged to 25-44 age groups, an increase from 84% before 2013. Of those surveyed, 59% had a bachelor’s degree, 42% had a master’s degree and 3% had a doctoral degree. Prior to 2012, only 34% of the immigrants had a bachelor’s degree, 18% had masters and 5% had a doctorate.
The WES study also says that 47% of the respondents expressed intent to settle down in Ontario, while 22% chose Alberta. 12% chose British Columbia and 4% wanted to settle down in Nova Scotia.
Among reasons to immigrate to Canada, “better standard of living” was answered by 90% of the survey respondents, while 70% said they were searching for better career opportunities.
Most respondents of the survey were optimistic about their employment prospects in Canada and one out of five believed that they would find jobs matching their skills in one to three years. Insufficient information about the Canadian job market and lack of work experience in Canada were identified as major hurdles to immigration by most survey respondents. Only 11% felt that language requirements in French or English would be a barrier, which came as a surprise as language skills have generally been identified by several studies as the top hurdle for employing foreign workers.
Following the introduction of the Express Entry system earlier this year, WES reports that between January and April there had been a 66% decline in the number of credential assessment requests it had received from overseas, and a 20% increase in such requests from within Canada.
Canada introduced the new Express Entry immigration system in January this year to meet its skills shortage in the job market. The new program is a points-based system that tends to favor those who have job offers in Canada.
Canada’s Minister of Employment and Social Development Pierre Poilievre has earmarked over $7 million for two projects to help skilled foreign workers get their credentials assessed efficiently in Canada. The initiative is one of the several government schemes that form a part of an economic growth strategy primarily aimed at increasing the employment rates of skilled migrant workers arriving in Canada.
“All levels of government need to adopt more common-sense approaches that help newcomers take on meaningful work more quickly,” said Poilievre in a press release.
The approaches take the form of preparing immigrants for life in Canada prior to their arrival in the country.
Canada started pre-arrival training for immigrants fairly recently, with the launch of the Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) in 2007 as a pilot project providing pre-arrival assistance to immigrants. It became a full-fledged program by 2010, partnering with various other Canadian immigration agencies.
The CIIP, which provides online assistance to future immigrants to Canada, has reached out to about 30,000 clients since 2007. However, this figure is only 3.2% of the total number of immigrants who arrived in Canada during that period, and the government is seeking to increase participation in the program.
Canada has a high demand for skilled economic immigrants like engineers, doctors, nurses, and IT professionals, with the government expecting about 172,000 skilled workers to arrive in Canada this year alone. Research shows that most new immigrants find it difficult to get around the complicated procedures involved in finding jobs that match their skills, or in getting their credentials recognized.
“Part of the problem is that people have been coming on the basis of being awarded points for the education and experience that they have. Then they come here and realize they were considered good to get into the country because they were a doctor, but now that they’re here it’s useless,” says an immigration expert.
The recently released 2015 federal budget includes an allocation of $35 million to make the Foreign Credential Recognition Loans pilot project permanent over a period of five years. And while it is unclear whether there are any funds available for pre-arrival pilot projects, the government has promised to help immigrants reach their maximum potential, and aims to expand the reach of pre-arrival programs like the CIIP to as many future immigrants as possible.
“It’s up and coming and it’s a great value to the professional immigrants. I know from being on panels that people with pre-arrival training seem to have an edge, the same way as if you had any sort of pre-training before you started a job,” says Denise De Long of Connector Program, a newcomer employment service in Halifax.