January 20, 2017 — One of the commonly-mentioned barriers to the full integration of immigrants into Canadian society is finding a job that matches experience and qualifications.
New immigrants often take work they are overqualified for to get themselves started – and find it difficult to make the jump into something more in line with their credentials.
Qualifications such as degrees and diplomas can be directly assessed so that they score points under the Express Entry System, but that often does not translate into recognition from a potential employer.
Many of Canada’s educational institutions offer a solution for this, including the University of Toronto.
The university’s Comparative Education Service provides a full assessment of an immigrant’s credentials and how they compare to the Canadian equivalent, giving a report to present to a potential employer, or to use when applying for required professional certification.
Immigrants who use the service also get a $200 discount on tuition fees towards any course the university offers.
If a candidate does not get the equivalency they require, they can enrol in the university’s School of Continuing Studies, which offers programs aimed at the needs of industries, employers and the Canadian economy.
There are more than 80 courses offered in fields including engineering, project management and accounting, for a candidate to work towards gaining Canadian equivalency for their credentials.
The courses are also aimed at immigrants who have problems furthering their careers in Canada. While they may find initial jobs in their fields, they find themselves overlooked for promotion.
A report published in October 2016 said Quebec must do more to better integrate and improve the job prospects of new immigrants.
The Institut de Recherche et d’Informations Socio-Economiques (IRIS) report said newcomers suffer higher unemployment rates and are more likely to end up in a job for which they are overqualified and paid less than native Quebecers.
The report looked at the last 10 years, when the unemployment rate for new immigrants averaged 11.2 per cent, against 5.8 per cent for those born in Canada.
It also says that while just fewer than 30 per cent of natives could be considered over-qualified for their jobs, that number is 43 per cent for immigrants.
The report blames these figures on labour market discrimination, both in terms of profiling of candidates and a failure to recognise foreign qualifications.
Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil points out that big strides have been made in lowering the unemployment rate among newcomers, from 12.4 per cent in 2011 to 10.7 per cent in 2015, but accepted that more needs to be done to integrate these individuals into Quebec society.
Key attributes for integration include knowledge of French and foreign qualification recognition, according to Weil.
She wants to make language programming more accessible to new immigrants in a variety of places, including online and in the workplace.
There is also work being done to improve how foreign qualifications are treated by Quebec employers.
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