Blog Post

WES Weekly Roundup August 23, 2022

WES logo

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.

While English and French are still the main languages spoken in Canada, the country’s linguistic diversity continues to grow (Statistics Canada)

According to the 2021 census data, English is spoken by 3 in 4 Canadians with 27.6 million English speakers across the country. French is spoken by more than 7.8 million Canadians which has increased since the 2016 numbers (7.7 million). Approximately 4.6 million Canadians speak a different language – other than English and French – at home, and this number is on the rise, representing about 12.7% of the population. While English and French are the most spoken languages in Canada, an estimated 9 million people have a mother tongue other than the country’s official languages. This number is particularly interesting as it indicates that one in four Canadians’ first language is neither English nor French. Additionally, the Canadian population has increased by 5.2% since the 2016 census and as a result, there is rapid growth of languages that reflect the makeup of the top countries migrating to Canada. Twenty-five percent of permanent residents who arrived between May 2016-December 2020 were born in a South Asian country, and one in five were born in India. The number of Canadians who predominately speak a South Asian language (such as Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi or Malayalam) at home grew significantly from 2016 to 2021. Finally, in the same period (2016-2020), one in ten permanent residents was born in China or the Philippines where Mandarin and Tagalog are spoken, also among the top trending languages growing in the country.

How the labour shortage got so bad (Macleans)

In March 2022, job vacancies across the country hit an all-time high of 1 million. Although these rates are on the decline, Canadians - workers and employers alike, continue to grapple with the consequences. There are various factors that contribute to elevated vacancy rates. For one, more people are leaving the labour market than entering it, with more individuals nearing retirement than ever before. The numbers are especially crucial in the care and skilled trades economies - teaching, long-term care, early childcare, and construction. The pandemic has also triggered significant strains across sectors with health and wage inequities as main causes for concern. In April, the federal government announced plans to expand migration pathways for temporary foreign workers at all skill levels. However, experts note that this is simply a 'band-aid' method to easing economic pressures; keeping wages 'artificially' low and taking advantage of foreign professionals willing to work for less money than Canadians. As these pressures are felt in each province, a national strategy is needed to adequately support workers in skills and training development, enabling them to obtain commensurate work opportunities or upskill. The plan for a resilient workforce may include increased wages, lowered tuition (or expansion of grant/bursary offerings), improved working conditions, and a clear pathway to citizenship for foreign talent.

Recruiting and training is the number one concern SMEs (Policy Options)

The talent gap is not a new problem especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This article summarizes a white paper led by D2L and Innovative Research Group regarding the needs of SMEs when it comes to upskilling. According to respondents, only 21 per cent of Canadian SMEs feel confident that they’ll have the people with the skills and talent they need to grow their businesses. Training employees can be an expensive endeavour and takes time to build the necessary expertise – especially for smaller organizations. Simultaneously, various levels of governments across the country are offering a suite of skills training incentives such as tax breaks. However, within this increasingly tight labour market, it is imperative to get this right and soon. The author provides a few recommendations including:

  • Canada needs a national workforce innovation strategy – This would provide a unified vision for training providers, governments and employers so they could focus efforts to improve the current situation.
  • Tax advantages should incentivize employers – SMEs need to support their employees in pursuing further training and education but instead of tax credits for employees, incentives for employers could also help. Furthermore, this could support employers covers some of the training.
  • Leverage tech to support skills development – at scale – There is a greater need on figuring out how to enable skills development on a larger scale. The issue is broad and needs a number of approaches to be successful. One potential area is funding accessible technological tools that provide skills for companies but perhaps extend to entire industries as well.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Immigration Minister responds to criticism over Afghan resettlement numbers (CBC)

The federal government recently marked the one-year anniversary of their commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghans, and so far, roughly 17, 400 have been welcomed. While Canada has made significant strides amid on the ground challenges, Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada continues to face criticism from opposition and advocates over the handling of the commitment. In response to several points of critique, Minister Sean Fraser cited that Canada is navigating obstacles including aiming to support Afghans within territory that is currently controlled by Taliban authorities. Among these is that Canada must partner with regional allies as there is currently no diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. When asked about the stark differences between the arrivals of Ukrainians and Afghans - the Minister referred to the differences in pathways; Afghans arrive as refugees and intend to settle, requiring more government support. Ukrainians, however, are arriving to Canada on a temporary basis and do not require safe passage through a 'third country'. Regarding the cap on spaces available through the program, Minister Fraser suggests that the cap is to ensure that Afghans are not only able to arrive but to thrive in Canada, and through coordination with service providers, better ensure adequate resources for larger groups.

The century of climate migration: Why we need to plan for the great upheaval (The Guardian)

The UN International Organization for Migration estimates that there could be as many as 1.5 billion environmental migrants in the next 30 years. After 2050, this figure is expected to balloon as temperatures increase and global populations rise. Climate driven migration is already underway but it will only become greater and more urgent as areas will become unliveable in the coming years. This article emphasizes that climate migration will affect all of us and if addressed correctly, it can be harnessed as a solution to many global challenges. North America and Europe have aging populations with nearly 300 million people above 65 years of age. Labour markets are tightening and there is simply not enough workers to fulfill the jobs needed to support economies across the world. New approaches to manage global labour mobility – like effective and coordinated policies to match people with job markets – can significantly impact workforce development challenges. For many especially in southern regions of the world, migration to Northern regions with more tolerable conditions will become commonplace as millions of individuals adapt to climate change. However, we need stronger global efforts to prepare and support nations in a better response to refugees, particularly one that goes beyond individual country borders.

Further Reading:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *