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Thursday, October 13, 2005
Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada2003
Two years after they arrived in Canada, prime working-age immigrants had made significant progress integrating into the labour force, but they still faced some challenges, according to the second wave of a longitudinal survey which examines how newcomers adjust over time.
New data from the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada (LSIC) show that 80% of immigrants aged between 25 and 44 worked in at least one job during their first two years in Canada.
This was a marked improvement from the results of the first wave, which assessed the situation of newcomers six months after arrival. At that point, 56% of those aged 25 to 44 had worked in at least one job.
Of the immigrants who found employment, many worked throughout their first two years in Canada. Over half (58%) worked for 18 months or more and three-quarters worked for more than one year.
One in five had not had any employment during this period. The majority of these individuals were women (74%), many of whom were spouses or dependents of immigrants in the economic category, or immigrants in the family category.
During the first wave of the LSIC, about 12,000 immigrants were interviewed between April 2001 and May 2002, six months after their arrival. During the second wave, 9,300 of the same immigrants were interviewed in 2003, two years after their arrival.
After two years, most newcomers had not found employment in the occupations in which they had intended to work. Of those who found employment, 33% found a job in their intended occupation during their first year in Canada, and another 9% did so during their second year.
In addition, newcomers still faced hurdles. At six months, the most serious problem or difficulty for prime working-age immigrants in finding employment was their lack of experience in the Canadian workforce. This was still the case after two years.
Many also still reported, as the most serious problem, difficulty in getting acceptance or recognition for their foreign professional credentials or educational qualifications, such as diplomas or degrees obtained in their homeland.
However, despite these challenges, most of the newcomers reported that they were satisfied with their job.
Employment rates for newcomers moved towards the national average
Overall, the employment rate of prime working-age immigrants moved towards the national average the longer they resided in Canada, according to the LSIC data.
At 26 weeks after their arrival, 50% of all immigrants aged 25 to 44 were employed. This was 30 percentage points below the employment rate of about 80% among all individuals aged 25 to 44 in the Canadian population. This gap is not surprising given that immigrants had a limited amount of time to get established in the labour force and many settlement activities to deal with.
At 52 weeks after arrival, the employment rate among prime working-age immigrants was 58%. This narrowed the gap to 23 percentage points.
At 104 weeks, or two years after arrival, the employment rate among prime working-age immigrants was 63%, 18 percentage points below the national rate of 81%.
Immigrants admitted as principal applicants in the skilled worker category had an even better record for employment. At 26 weeks after arrival, the gap in the employment rate between them and the Canadian population was 20 percentage points. By 52 weeks, this had narrowed to 12 points, and by two years, it was down to 8 points.
Among all prime working-age persons, employment rates are highest among those who have a university degree. In this context, it should be noted that the vast majority (87%) of principal applicants in the skilled worker category aged 25 to 44 arrived with a university degree. This was more than three times the proportion of 25% for all Canadians in that age group, as reported by the Labour Force Survey.
Some modest gains in finding employment in intended occupations
Finding employment was not necessarily indicative of finding the right job. Of those who found employment, about 4 in 10 found a job in their intended occupation.
The situation was somewhat better among principal applicants in the skilled worker category who were aged 25 to 44. These individuals are selected based on a number of criteria including their education, language ability and employment skills. Immigrants in this category are deemed to be more likely to succeed in the labour market and contribute to the Canadian economy.
Among this group, the vast majority, 90% or about 45,000, found employment during their first two years in Canada. Of those who did, just under half (48%) found a job in their intended occupation.
About half of these 45,000 skilled workers had intended to find work in natural and applied sciences and related occupations. Of this group who had intended to enter these occupations, 49% had actually done so by the end of the two-year period.
Lack of Canadian work experience still critical
At six months, the most serious problem prime working-age immigrants reported when trying to find employment was their lack of experience in the Canadian workforce. This was still a primary concern after two years.
Among the 65,600 prime working-age immigrants who looked for employment 6 to 24 months after landing, 71% or 46,500 encountered at least one problem.
Of these individuals, about one out of four cited lack of Canadian work experience as the most serious problem they encountered. About one-fifth said the most serious problem was lack of acceptance or recognition of their foreign work experience or qualifications. Language barriers were the most serious problem for 15%, while another 14% cited a shortage of jobs.
Principal applicants in the skilled worker category who encountered problems most often cited lack of Canadian work experience (26%) or lack of acceptance of their foreign experience or qualifications (23%). Only 9% said language barriers were the most serious problem.
Of the refugees who encountered problems, 28% said language barriers were the most serious problem, while 25% said lack of Canadian work experience was the main obstacle.
Despite these challenges, the share of newcomers who said they were satisfied with their job increased from 74% six months after landing to 84% two years after landing.
Job satisfaction was higher for those who were able to use their training, who worked in their intended occupation or who worked full time.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4422.
The publication Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada: Progress and Challenges of New Immigrants in the Workforce, 2003 (89-615-XIE, free) is now available online. From the Our products and services page, under Browse our Internet publications, choose Free, then Social conditions.
For more information about the analysis contained in this release, contact Statistics Canada's Media Relations Hot Line (613-951-4636), Communications and Library Services Division.