World Education Services (WES) is a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to helping international students, immigrants, and refugees achieve their educational and career goals in the United States and Canada. The weekly roundup includes research, stories, and events of interest to the Canadian immigration and settlement community. This content has been created by WES and is reproduced here with their permission, in partnership.
Labour shortages, aging workers and the pandemic’s impact on the economy are accelerating challenges faced by Canadian employers. As of June 2022, businesses reported 70% more job openings across the country than before the pandemic hit. Research projects that Canada is only about halfway through the wave of labour force exits, with labour force participation expected to fall substantially by the end of this decade. Immigration can address some of these labour force challenges; however, the real long-term solution includes better integration of immigrant’s skills and increased resources in areas such as childcare and housing. These capital investments can help close the labour force participation gap between genders and boost workforce productivity.
Since immigration backlogs have ballooned throughout the pandemic, in June 2022 the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC) conducted a survey with organizations that regularly access the International Mobility Program (IMP). Ninety-seven percent of organizations reportedly hire talent through work permit programs and 53 percent hire via economic immigration pathways. However, recent IRCC processing delays have a negative impact on these businesses. Ninety-four percent of organizations have cancelled or delayed projects due to these delays and for 55 percent, this has resulted in lost revenue. Several Canadian universities responded noting that 29 percent reported cancelling or postponing educational programs as well as delaying research projects. While IRCC Minister Fraser has noted that processing times should return to normal by the end of 2022, in the meantime, participants offered five areas of improvement for IRCC:
Fees collected from international students bring in a considerable amount of revenue to post-secondary institutions across the country. Over the past decade, tuition revenues have been increasingly important to schools as government funding has decreased. A recent Statistics Canada report noted that in 2020/21 university surpluses hit a total of $7.3 billion even as COVID shifted the classroom to online learning. International students have argued that tuition costs should have been reduced when classes moved online, since many were denied the full experience of on-campus education. Critics including the Ontario Auditor General warn institutions of the dangers in this reliance on international students. The report stresses that an increased reliance on international tuition revenue could trigger considerable financial risks if a drop in international enrollments were to occur. Finally, Canada must also consider wrap around supports for international students that focus on affordable and accessible housing – a point of concern across the country.
The COVID-19 pandemic completely shifted the way economies navigate crises. Equipping Canadians for the future of work should be the focus of policy makers, business-leaders and local communities within the everchanging labour market. As fluctuations in the workforce are often unpredictable, the result is a misalignment or "mismatch" between the skills that job seekers have, and the skills needed by employers and economies. Applying strategic foresight can enable organizations and individuals to plan more effectively amid uncertainty, mitigating risks and future shocks. This is accomplished through strategy reframing and scenario-based planning; contextualized forecasts and predictions; understanding the potential impact of radical change and increased social capital. In strategy reframing and scenario-based planning, users can identify key trends and motivators of change. Contextualizing forecasts allows actors to work beyond the scope of typically limited labour market information. Understanding the nature of radical change will allow organizations to better prepare for potential consequences and build resilience ahead of future crises. Throughout the scenario planning process, individuals are able to build learning relationships and networks in further collaboration. These insights will further the develop key infrastructure within the future of work framework and enhance coordination amongst stakeholders.
What interventions are necessary in supporting the integration and economic inclusion of refugees in Canada? As global migration crises have triggered an influx of refugees arriving in Canada, resettlement frameworks should enable refugees to enhance their social capital. Refugees often face socio-economic exclusion and compounding barriers to integration when compared to the trajectories of other newcomers. Through analysis of refugees' income in Canada, researchers identify that their incomes are typically stagnant after arriving. This is largely due to a lack of documentation of their professional experience, leaving much of their financial assets in their home countries. These factors contribute to limited access to commensurate employment, higher paying jobs, and training and skills development programs. Based on data from Statistics Canada, the median income of refugees in Canada is $27,000 per year after 10 years of living in Canada - roughly $13,000 less than the national median income. External interventions including low interest micro-loans and career focused action plans can help break these trends and reinforce positive socio-economic outcomes for refugees and other newcomer populations in Canada.