Canadian employers are always on the lookout for talent and international experience, yet newcomers often struggle to find jobs that utilize their abilities. This is particularly true of immigrants who are racialized or have limited language proficiency.
Newcomers to the United States often find support through settlement agencies and other resources, but job searching can be challenging. Many end up in overqualified, lower-paying positions that do not utilize their skillset.
Lack of Job Opportunities
Although Canada’s official unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades, real obstacles are keeping Canadians from finding work. These include a lack of Canadian work experience, difficulty getting their foreign education and experience recognized, as well as a perceived employer bias against hiring immigrants.
Furthermore, an analysis of Statistics Canada data revealed that two-thirds of job postings offered wages too low for workers to accept.
Canada’s labour market is facing a critical crisis due to an aging population. Even if immigration levels continue to rise, the supply of workers will likely be in short supply in the coming years.
Workers will have to be more selective about the jobs they apply for, particularly in sectors with lower educational requirements such as customer and food services.
Lack of Language Skills
Many Canadian job seekers experience difficulties with language proficiency, which can have an adverse impact on their economic integration and social integration in Canada. For instance, immigrants with low levels of official-language proficiency levels tend to have more limited employment options (Derwing & Waugh 2012; Blanch 2020).
Foreign-born professionals with specific credentials who are hired by local employers often end up in entry-level jobs.
Years ago, job searches focused on hard skills; today the labour market demands soft ones such as communication, collaboration, creativity and self-reliance. According to a report by the World Economic Forum, these will be the most essential competencies for future employees to possess.
Data about labour-skills shortages is collected from a variety of sources, such as the federal government, universities and the private sector. Unfortunately, this data isn’t specific enough to pinpoint specific skills in demand or supply or where they are most needed.
Lack of Cultural Adaptation
Immigrants bring invaluable knowledge and skills to Canada, yet often struggle to find employment that utilizes their education and work experience. This may be due to a lack of cultural acculturation as well as an unfamiliarity with Canadian workplace culture in regards to communication, responsibility distribution, feedback loops and networking.
Sabina Michael, career coach and education program manager at Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, notes that workers from cultures which value hierarchy tend to take more decisions, give detailed orders, and guide their employees in daily tasks. In these cultures, managers tend to exert more control over employee decisions and activities.
Government action can play an essential role in helping newcomers gain employment and employers receive the support they need to integrate them successfully into their workplaces. This can be accomplished through licensing and hiring of immigrants as well as employer engagement initiatives that help small and medium-sized enterprises realize the advantages of tapping into an immigrant workforce.
Lack of Education
Unemployment among Canadian job seekers is a significant problem. Nearly half of all unemployed adults seeking work report that their lack of skills or education makes it difficult for them to keep their current positions or secure better ones.
According to a recent poll by Goodwill, people of color were especially at risk. A majority of those surveyed stated they did not apply for jobs because they lacked the necessary skills or training.
Unfortunately, Canada’s educational system fails to provide young Canadians with the practical technical and vocational education they require for success in their careers. Many school leavers enter university without possessing the necessary experience, skills or qualifications required for a career within a particular sector.