Labour market entry
Majority of new immigrants planned to work
For most newcomers, finding employment is a key facet of establishing a new life in Canada. The vast majority of immigrants (85%) indicated that they had planned to work once they had arrived in Canada.
This was particularly true for immigrants who were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years. Overall, 94% of the immigrants between the ages of 25 to 44 years indicated they planned to work after coming to Canada, compared with the 74% of newcomers aged 45 to 64 years and 73% of younger immigrants aged between 15 to 24 years.
Four out of 10 found work six months after arrival
Although it was a relatively short period of time, 44% (or 72,100) of newcomers had found employment within some six months of their arrival to Canada. Of the newcomers who had found jobs, 79% worked full time and the rest (21%) part time.
About 37% (or 42,200) newcomers who were looking for work had not found jobs yet at the time of the interview.
In total, 114,400 new immigrants were in the labour force, representing a 70% participation rate for all newcomers. The rate was even higher (78%) among new arrivals between the ages of 25 to 44 years, but was slightly lower than the equivalent age group for the total Canadian total population (86%) recorded in the Labour Force Survey.
Immigrants in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years had the highest employment rate. Half of those in this age group were employed six months after landing, compared with one-third (36%) of those aged 15 to 24 years and one-third (35%) of those aged 45 to 64 years.
Economic-class principal applicants had the highest employment rate
The class of admission under which immigrants were admitted to Canada often had an impact on their labour market entry. Given that principal applicants in the economic class were admitted on the basis of their skills, it is not surprising that this group had the highest employment rate.
At the time of the survey, 59% or 35,900 of those who entered as principal applicants in the economic class were employed, compared with 39% (or 17,300) of the immigrants admitted in the family class and 21% (or 2,100) in the refugee class.
Among immigrant women admitted as spouses or dependents in the economic class, the employment rate was almost the same as that of their counterparts in the family class. At the time of the survey, 32% of the women who entered as spouses or dependents in the economic class were employed, compared with 31% in the family class.
The case was somewhat different among immigrant men who entered as spouses or dependents in the economic class: 39% of these men were employed, compared with 54% of their counterparts in the family class.
Among those aged 25 to 44 years who were employed, economic-class principal applicants had the highest proportion working full time. About 86% of them worked full time, compared with 82% of their counterparts in the family class and 74% of refugees.
Conversely, only 14% of employed economic-class principal applicants worked part time, compared with 19% of their family class counterparts and 26% of the refugee class.
Language skills and education affected success in finding a job
In addition to their admission class, immigrants’ human capital, such as skills in either of the two official languages, level of education and place of birth, often influenced the newcomer’s entrance into the labour market.
It appears that official language skills might have an impact on whether the newcomers entered the labour force. At the time of the survey, 52% of immigrants aged 25 to 44 years who could converse in English or French were employed, compared with only 33% of those who had no knowledge of either language.
In terms of educational attainment, newcomers who were in the prime working-age group of 25 to 44 years and who had reported having a university degree were more likely to have found a job than their counterparts who had little education (52% versus 37%).
Labour market activity also varied by place of birth. While labour force participation rates were comparable across immigrants from various regions, employment rates were not. For example, the employment rate for Asian-born immigrants aged 25 to 44 years was 49%, compared with 38% for those from Africa.
Numerous studies have indicated that the employment situation of immigrants improves over time. As they gain Canadian work experience, achieve fluency in one of the official languages and obtain further training, the chances of finding employment improve.
However, other studies show that initial labour market experience often depends on the human capital that the newcomers acquire before landing in the country. The labour market conditions at the time of entry are another important factor that can influence the employment experience of new immigrants to Canada. Further analysis of the labour market entry among new immigrants is necessary to gain a better understanding of the employment experience of new arrivals to Canada. This will be easier to accomplish once all three waves of interviews have been undertaken and the information has been gathered.
Over half of immigrants did not work in the same field after immigration
Of the newcomers who were employed at the time of the survey, a high proportion were not working in the same occupational field as they did prior to immigrating to Canada. For both women and men, 6 in 10 employed immigrants worked in a different occupational group after their arrival.
Of the key landing characteristics, immigrants’ country of birth and official language skills appeared to have had an impact on whether immigrants found a job within the same field as they had been employed in before coming to Canada.
Some 63% of immigrants who were born in the United States and 68% of the Oceania-born (Australia, New Zealand, etc.) were employed in the same occupational groups. However, the same could be said for only 33% of those born in Asia and the Middle East, and 36% of those immigrants from Central and South America.
Four in 10 (40%) immigrants who could converse in either English or French found jobs in the same occupational groups they had worked in before immigration, compared with only one-quarter (25%)of those who couldn’t speak either official language.
The survey showed that the educational level of newcomers upon landing had little or no impact on whether they worked in the same field after coming to Canada as they had before immigration. About 4 in 10 of both those with university education and those with less than high school education were employed in an occupational group after their arrival that was similar to the one they had been in before coming to Canada.
Distribution in occupational groups shifted after coming to Canada
In general, the distribution of occupations of both male and female immigrants employed at the time of the survey differed from the distribution of occupations they had had before they came to Canada.
Among immigrant men who had a job at the time of the interview, 39% were employed in the field of natural and applied sciences occupations prior to arriving in Canada. However, six months after their arrival, only 19% were employed in these occupations.
About 13% of immigrant men had worked in a management position prior to arrival. At the time of the survey, only 4% of those were employed as managers.
One-quarter (25%) of immigrant men who had found a job six months after landing in Canada were in sales and service, the occupational group with the largest concentration. This proportion was two times greater than it was among these men prior to their immigration. Before coming to Canada, about 4% of these men worked in processing and manufacturing occupations. However, at the time of the survey, this proportion had increased five times to 22%.
This shift in occupational distribution was similar for immigrant women. Before coming to Canada, 25% of women who had a job at the time of the interview were employed in business, finance and administrative occupations. This proportion declined to about 18% after immigration.
Prior to arrival, 43% of women were employed in two main fields: business, finance and administrative and social sciences, education, government services and religious occupations. In Canada, when interviewed, the proportion of women working in these fields had decreased to 24%.
Another shift for immigrant women occurred in management occupations. About 8% of women worked as managers prior to their arrival in Canada; at the time of the survey, this percentage had dropped to 3%.
Among immigrant women at the time of the survey, the largest concentration worked in sales and service occupations. The 37% of employed women in this occupational group represented three times the proportion employed in this field prior to immigration. Again, fully 18% were employed in processing and manufacturing occupations after their arrival in Canada, about four times the proportion prior to immigration.
Finding the right job
Among those who were employed at the time of the survey, 42% reported that they were looking for another job. Men were more likely than women to seek a different job (45% versus 36%).
In some cases, the search may have been motivated by the desire to switch from part-time to full-time employment. Half the immigrants employed in part-time jobs were also looking for a different job at the time of the study, compared with 39% of those already in full-time employment.
Newcomers in different occupational groups before immigration were more likely to be looking for another job
For many immigrants, employment during the initial months after landing may have been transitory. Some immigrants may still be in the process of pursuing the type of occupations for which they were trained.
Some six months after arriving in Canada, newcomers who were employed in a different occupational group before immigration were more likely to be looking for another job. Just over one-half (52%) of those not employed in the same occupation group were looking for another job, compared with only 30% of those who were working in the same field.
Immigrants who were in natural and applied science occupations before entering Canada and had yet to obtain similar employment were more likely to be looking for another job than those employed in the same field at the time of the survey (67% versus 22%). On the other hand, a smaller proportion (36%) of immigrants who were previously employed in sales and service occupations before immigration to Canada and had yet to obtain employment in the same field were looking for alternate employment at the time of the survey, compared with the 41% of those already working in the same field.
Lack of Canadian experience and transferability of foreign credentials were the most critical hurdles to employment
Of the 116,700 newcomers who looked for work, 70% reported at least one problem in the process. The most common problem cited by immigrants who encountered barriers when looking for employment was the lack of Canadian job experience. This was identified by 26% of the new immigrants.
An almost equal proportion (24%) cited transferability of foreign qualifications or experience as the most critical obstacle.
These two problems were cited by many immigrants, with the exception of those born in the United States and Oceania countries. In fact, only 34% of immigrants in these two areas reported any problem in finding employment, compared with 70% of all immigrants who had tried to enter the labour market.
A lack of skills in either official language was identified by 22% of the immigrants as the greatest hurdle when seeking employment. Among immigrants who could not converse in English or French, 69% stated that this was the most serious problem.
Immigrants with little formal education were also more likely to cite language as the most critical problem. About 49% did so, compared with only 17% of their counterparts who had a university degree. The fact that there weren’t enough jobs was reported by about 9% of the immigrants as the most serious obstacle to finding employment.
Four in 10 newcomers with foreign credentials1 had qualifications validated
Previous studies have found that professionally trained immigrants who came to Canada in the 1990s have encountered difficulties in getting their foreign credentials assessed. This was especially true among immigrants who were trained in an education system different from that of Canada.
Of the 164,200 immigrants, 76% or 124,700) had some sort of foreign credentials: 62% of immigrants with credentials had one qualification; another 26% had two; the remaining 12% had three or more.
Some six months after their arrival, 26% (or 32,300) of immigrants who had professional credentials had at least one of their qualifications verified by an employer, an educational institution or the governing body of their profession within Canada. Another 13% had credentials checked by other sources outside of Canada or by immigration officers, while 61% had not had any of their credentials validated.
Of those newcomers who had at least one of their credentials validated by an employer, educational institution or professional organization within Canada, 54% (or 17,400) reported having at least one accreditation agency fully accept their credentials; 22% had an agency partially accept at least one of their qualifications; 15% were still waiting for the results of the assessment; and 13% had at least one of their credentials rejected by an accreditation body.
Family and friends helped out
Few immigrants reported encountering major problems when trying to settle into their new life, whether entering the labour force, furthering their education, finding accommodation or accessing health care services.
Immigrants who needed help when they experienced some difficulties in settling into their new lives in Canada most frequently turned to family and friends, depending on the problem. For example, 84% (or 16,114) of newcomers who had problems obtaining housing reported that family and friends provided help.
After family and friends, the most commonly cited source (5%) of help with difficulties in finding housing was immigrant and refugee service providers.
Of immigrants who encountered problems in finding employment, 36% received some help from friends and 26% received help from relatives. The next most commonly cited sources from which immigrants received help in entering the job market were educational institutions (18%), immigrant and refugee serving agencies (11%) and government agencies (11%).
1. Credentials refer to any formal education higher than a high school diploma which include professional or technical qualifications, and any other degrees, diplomas or certificates received outside Canada.