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WES Weekly Roundup October 12, 2022

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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.

The "Canadian Experience Disconnect" - Immigrant Selection, Economic settlement and hiring (Conference Board of Canada)

Canadian experience is a common phrase used by government, employers and community agencies yet, a clear and consistent definition remains lacking. It can include work experience, skills and qualifications, study experience in Canada and other place-based experiences. This report assesses the economic benefits and costs of the various forms of “Canadian experience” to find more clarity in the term. Research has shown that “Canadian experience” provides an array of benefits such as advanced language skills, soft skills development, professional networks and more. However not all forms of this experience equal the same outcomes. While first jobs in Canada tend to predict employment and earnings success, for many immigrants, the lack of "Canadian experience” can be a barrier to economic and social integration. Furthermore, for many individuals who enter Canada on temporary visas and then apply for permanent residency at a later date – also known as “two-step migration” - their needs and access to supports are strikingly different than many newcomers who enter through a direct permanent residency program (often with little Canadian experience or connections upon arrival). The authors argue that the current immigration and settlement support system in Canada was not designed with two-step migration in mind. As a result, few federal programs are able support those individuals to achieve full economic inclusion. Among the many recommendations to ameliorate the system include:

For the federal government: 

  • Produce an evidence-based coherent and consistent assessment of Canadian experience to adjust permanent residency pathways
  • Review settlement practices and realign programming 
  • Support and invest in international students as potential immigrants to ensure their economic success

For the provincial government:

  • Work with educational institutions to better align international programs with regional economic opportunities
  • Collaboration with federal government and post-secondary institutions to enhance supports available to international students

For employers:

  • Eliminate Canadian work experience as a formal hiring requirement 

How failing to consider intersectionality affects immigrant women in the workplace (TRIEC)

Intersectionality explores how social identities including gender, race, ethnicity, migration status, and age can "intersect" and overlap to create unique experiences, challenges, and opportunities for an individual. Incorporating a lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace enables employment practices that advance the recruitment of marginalized individuals, but at times fail to address historic and systemic complexities faces by communities. Many immigrant women, those who are racialized in particular may experience challenges within the workplace including access to commensurate employment. A recent survey conducted by Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council note that two in five immigrant women professionals were in lower positions than they held in their countries of origin. 

In the Greater Toronto Area, 36 percent of executives across all sectors are women, 14.5 percent are racialized, 6 percent are immigrants and 2 percent are racialized immigrant women. Advocates are calling on policy makers as well as employers to recognize and address these challenges towards the development of vital solutions that foster inclusion. Recommendations include making constructive feedback part of the hiring and performance review process; creating psychologically safe work environments where immigrant women have trusted mechanisms to report discrimination; committing sufficient staff and financial resources behind EDI initiatives; and refraining from expecting employees with lived experience to represent “the whole” and lead EDI initiatives. 

Canada moving to boost pathways to permanent residency for international students (ICEF Monitor)

International students have become an increasing priority for the federal government. A recent IRCC announcement has lifted the 20-hour maximum of working hours off campus for international students between November 15, 2022 to December 31, 2023. Additionally, other possible reforms are anticipated to come about including:

  • Changes to Express Entry to better respond to labour market needs and regional economic challenges. 
  • Work permits for family members of temporary workers and international students holding post-graduation work permits 
  • Focus on priority sectors and remove barriers for students and workers in essential fields such as medicine, caregiving, agri-food, construction and other sectors
  • Diversification of source countries for international students - Currently there is much concern around increased concentration of certain source countries and Canada’s dependency on them.

Refugee Resettlement Spotlight

Special program to sponsor Afghan refugees without refugee status from the UNHCR or a foreign state (IRCC) 

Immigrant Refugees and Citizenship Canada announced that starting October 17, community sponsors including groups of five can sponsor Afghan refugees to Canada without having to submit a refugee status determination (RSD) document. The RSD is issued by the UNHCR or a foreign state to confirm that the person seeking protection is legally considered a refugee. The program is currently processing nearly 3000 applications through this specialized program. Sponsors are still required to complete mandatory training through the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program and application screening will still consider security, criminality, and medical examinations.

Lives on Hold: Intentions and perspectives of refugees from Ukraine (UNHCR)

As a result of the ongoing war in Ukraine, many individuals are seeking refuge abroad. This UNHCR report examines the intentions of Ukrainian refugees as they navigate to safety. Data reveals that nearly a quarter of refugees are renting accommodation independently, with the majority continuing to experience socio-economic gaps around employment and education.  When surveyed on whether they would return to Ukraine within the next three months, 13 percent of respondents said they plan on returning, with nearly 43 percent undecided. Based on current findings, nearly 79 percent of those not planning to return or who are undecided about return within the next three months are planning to remain in their host country, with 4 percent planning to relocate. Of the nearly 81 percent of respondents expressing hope to return to Ukraine “one day”, 15 percent remain undecided. Most refugees surveyed responded that safety is the number one concern in their place of origin, along with lack of access to basic services and adequate living conditions in their host countries.

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