Categorized | Immigrant

No Jobs for New Immigrants

Posted on 15 December 2010 by admin

Aleem Zaidi came to Mississauga from Pakistan two years ago with a post-graduate degree in Agricultural studies and extensive work experience in the banking industry. But after unsuccessful attempts at securing a job that matched his credentials, he applied to the University of Western Ontario to upgrade his education and to increase chances of employability.

“My credentials were assessed in Pakistan and I was accepted in the skilled immigrant category when I applied for immigration to Canada,” said Zaidi.

Immigrants accepted under the “skilled workers” category of immigration are accepted based on their work-related skills, professional credentials, and knowledge of one or both official languages.

Currently pursuing graduate studies in Environment and Sustainability at Western, and gaining experience through a co-op placement program, Zaidi says his potential is not being recognized. “No matter how frustrating it is intellectually, changing professions to adapt becomes the only choice.”

Many skilled workers, like Zaidi, despite having their education and experience assessed prior to immigration are not more likely to be employed or to be able to find employment in jobs that utilize their skills.

Unlike Zaidi, not every immigrant chooses to join educational institutes to increase chances of employment. For immigrants like Mohammad Shafiq, 51, the transition requires quick thinking and fast action. When Shafiq came to Canada from United States armed with a doctorate in economics, he looked around for suitable jobs but not for too long.

“I realized the Canadian job market didn’t require what I had to offer, so I switched gears and went to a community college and completed a certificate in computer programming,” said Shafiq.

But due to stiff competition and aftermath of recession, opportunities are shrinking for newly arrived immigrants. A 2008 study  revealed that the proportion of degree-holding immigrants ended up working as store clerks and taxi drivers even after living in Canada for more than a decade has increased.

About 12 percent male immigrants with a university degree had jobs with low educational requirements in 1991. By 2006, it was 21 percent.

Among female immigrants, the study said, these numbers increased from 24 percent in 1991 to 29 percent in 2006.

“These increases for established immigrants suggest that the difficulties, which have long plagued immigrants who have arrived recently, today have an impact on established immigrants,” said Statistics Canada in a statement.

“If we are accepted in the category of skilled immigrants, then where are the jobs that can help us utilize those skills?” said Zaidi.

It is an uphill task for some immigrants to establish themselves professionally because their work experience and foreign credentials are not recognized in Canada.

A recent report released by the Region of Peel in Ontario shows immigrants lagging behind in accessing the job market. The Peel Immigration Labour Market Survey has unveiled that immigrants are not faring as well as their Canadian born counterparts.

In the sample of 1,425 immigrants and Canadian-born Peel residents surveyed, lack of Canadian work experience was reported as the barrier faced most often. For those who had international work experience, only one-third were successful in obtaining their desired employment.

Laureen Rennie, project manager at Department of Human Services in Region of Peel says it takes around six to ten years for the immigrants to settle down in Canada. “The process is difficult because when qualified immigrants arrive here, they enter a market that doesn’t necessarily require those qualifications,” said Rennie.

Human Services serves as a liaison between the federal/ provincial government and municipalities of Peel region that include Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon. Immigrants make up 49% of peel’s population.

According to the survey, one in four immigrants accessed some government-funded employment services, and just under one-third obtained more education and credentials in Canada. The Peel Immigration Labour Market Survey is the first study conducted that provides local data on the labour market in Peel, and how immigrants are faring in finding employment. Funded by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, the study was done in collaboration with Ryerson’s Diversity Institute in Management and Technology.

Rennie said that Region of Peel is working on creating a dialogue between public and private companies and the new immigrants so they can be facilitated in the work place.

Author:Zareen Muzaffar

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