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The successful integration of immigrants into the Canadian labour market is of interest to the Canadian public policy and to current and potential immigrants, alike. The purpose of this report is thus to develop a better understanding of the integration of internationally-educated immigrants into the Canadian labour market compared to immigrants who completed their education in Canada and the Canadian-born with a postsecondary education.

Immigration is an increasingly important component of population growth in Canada, with over 200,000 immigrants arriving in Canada each year. According to a report from Statistics Canada, immigrants were responsible for more than two-thirds (69%) of the population growth that occurred between 2001 and 2006 (Statistics Canada 2007a).

Immigrants make an enormous contribution to the pool of individuals in Canada with postsecondary qualifications. Data from the 2006 Census show that, of the 'very-recent' immigrants – those who immigrated between 2001 and 2006 – 349,800, or 51%, had a university degree. This was more than twice the proportion of degree holders among the Canadian-born population (20%) and much higher than was the case for immigrants who arrived in Canada before 2001 (28%). According to the 2006 Census, the 23% of Canadians aged between 25 and 64 who were born outside Canada accounted for nearly one-half (49%) of the doctorate holders in Canada and for 40% of adults with a master's degree (Statistics Canada 2008a).

Upon their arrival however, internationally-educated immigrants face an adjustment process both in terms of integrating into society at large and finding work related to their field of study (Boyd and Schellenberg 2007, Schellenberg and Maheux 2007, Bonikowska, Green and Riddell 2008, Statistics Canada 2005, Statistics Canada 2008b). Boyd and Schellenberg (2007) observed that individuals educated in Canada have followed recognized programs of study, have validated work experience and have a greater familiarity with the language of employment in Canada. Immigrants, on the other hand, are more likely to possess foreign credentials and work experience and, as a result, often face challenges in having their degrees, work experience and/or language proficiency recognized.

Furthermore, immigration policies and occupational certification or licensure processes may not always work in harmony, creating barriers to immigrants' integration into Canadian society and economy, thus generating a paradox: while highly-educated immigrants are recruited on the basis of their potential contribution to Canadian society, the Canadian certification and licensure requirements they must meet often limit the full utilization of their skills (Boyd and Schellenberg 2007).

It is important to note at the outset that the analysis discussed in this report is descriptive in nature, presenting a profile, based on data from the 2006 Census, of the socio-demographic characteristics of immigrants to Canada who have a postsecondary education and making comparisons to the Canadian-born with a postsecondary education, whether completed in Canada or abroad. As such, care should be taken in making interpretations based on the findings. While various studies have proposed competing explanations of the observed differences, the extent to which each factor contributes to immigrant disadvantage has been debated. This report shows that among immigrants, differences in labour market outcomes also exist between those who were educated outside Canada and those who completed their postsecondary education in Canada.

The next stage of the analysis, which will be discussed in a separate report, will examine the interrelationships between factors in a multivariate framework. This will allow an assessment of the contributions of various factors to the integration of internationally-educated immigrants into the Canadian labour market.

This report is divided into four main sections. Section 1 presents a socio-demographic profile of internationally-educated immigrants with a postsecondary credential upon their arrival in Canada. It includes information on their sex, age, time elapsed since landing, marital status, family composition, province and city of residence, country of birth, country of education, level of education, attendance at school, instructional program, mother tongue and ability to conduct a conversation in at least one of the official languages, visible minority group and citizenship.

Sections 2 and 3 focus on the integration of internationally-educated immigrants into the Canadian labour market. Compared to their counterparts with a postsecondary credential earned in Canada or to the Canadian-born with a postsecondary education, what are their working conditions and earnings? Are they working in an occupation related to their field of study and, if not, are they working in an occupation requiring a lower skill level? Different aspects are taken into account when examining labour market outcomes of internationally-educated immigrants. These include the time elapsed since landing, type of credential, country of education, province, sex and age.

Section 4 presents the summary and concluding remarks.

Identification of the characteristics associated with, and determinants of, the successful integration of internationally-educated immigrants into the Canadian labour market provides important information to the various stakeholders interested in immigration policy. These aspects will be examined more closely in a later report.

Data source – Statistics Canada's 2006 Census of Population

Statistics Canada conducts the Census of Population in order to develop a statistical portrait of Canadian residents on one specific day. The Census is designed to provide information about people and housing units in Canada by their demographic, social and economic characteristics.

Census questions relating to education changed substantially between 2001 and 2006, to reflect developments in Canada's education system and take better account of characteristics of immigrants' education. These changes improved the quality of data and provided more precise information on educational attainment as well as fields of study. For the first time, Census information is available on the province, territory or country in which individuals attained their highest level of education. While this new information is central to the purpose of this report, the analysis will draw additional benefits from the extensive amount of information the Census collects on area of residence in Canada, characteristics of immigrants (sex, age, language, marital status, family composition, country of origin, immigrant status, period of immigration, citizenship, ethnic origin) and labour market situation.

Unless otherwise stated, all data in this release come from Statistics Canada's 2006 Census of Population. Since data from the Census are randomly rounded to the nearest 0 or 5, not all numbers will add to totals and there may be slight differences between tables.

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