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WES Weekly Roundup October 4, 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.

It's not as easy as they say: International Students' Perspectives about gaining Canadian work experience (Canadian Journal of Career Development) 

Post-secondary institutions and Canadian immigration policy have become increasingly dependent on the growing number of international students attending Canadian schools. International students are often perceived as ideal candidates to fill the country’s labour shortages. However, many international students face challenges upon graduation when seeking to find work and making the decision whether to stay in Canada or seek employment elsewhere. Through interviews with 18 international students pursing employment during their studies, five major barriers were identified that impacted their preparation and experience in the labour market:

  1. Policies and procedures – Slow processing times for work permits, inconsistent and confusing government policies, and exclusion from integrated learning opportunities like co-op and paid internships left many with narrow employment options.
  2. Economic context and competition – The economic downturn fueled by the pandemic resulted in less job prospects and increased competition among peers who did not have to face work permit issues. 
  3. Cultural challenges – Employer biases, gender discrimination and understanding Canadian workplace culture pushed many to consider returning home for better employment opportunities.
  4. Language – Lack of English fluency was an impediment to job readiness and communication in their employment search. 
  5. Life Circumstance – Student’s focus on school and keeping on track left very little time for life planning post-graduation or opportunities that could help support their career development. 

In response to these challenges, the authors recommend streamlined employment policies and visa conditions, as well as coordination among employers, community agencies and post-secondary institutions to develop and promote work experience opportunities that could support international students access work experience while studying and post-graduation.

No help for undocumented workers (The Star)

The recent Strategy to Expand Transitions to Permanent Residency from Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is a plan to define a clearer pathway to permanent residency for temporary workers and international students; addressing labour shortages in essential sectors including health, trades, hospitality, and IT. However, many advocates argue that the new strategy glosses over systemic issues within existing programs, suggesting that it focuses on "tweaks, not reforms". Although the potential regularization of undocumented residents is within the mandate letter given to the Minister of Immigration, the forthcoming strategy presents little action in that regard.

Allies are calling on the government to re-evaluate the strategy and address the needs of temporary residents and undocumented migrants including low-skilled and low-waged workers. The improved plan should highlight steps to more adequately support these individuals that typically face an increased risk of precarious housing, employment, and additional marginalization. Migrant rights advocates caution that the acknowledgement of exploitative immigration and employment practices are not enough, urging that concrete solutions are needed. In response to these and other mounting concerns, IRCC reassures that they will be "reviewing evidence and exploring improvements" to the strategy. 

Unmasking differences in women’s full-time employment (Stats Canada)

This report highlights trends for women’s full-time employment in Canada from 2007-2021, with a particular focus on Indigenous and immigrant women. The full-time employment rate for these groups appears to increase with age. In 2007, 53% of Indigenous women aged 25-29 were working full-time which increased to 63% in 2021 when the same individuals were 40-44 years old. In the same time period, immigrant women who arrived in Canada as children or teenagers remained at the same rate (69% full time employment) from 2007 to 2021 in the same age range. For immigrant women who arrived in Canada after the age of 18, their full-time employment increased from 48% in 2007 (age 25-29) up to 64% in 2021 (age 40-44). Higher education tends to be associated with higher rates of labour market integration and in the case of Indigenous women, although this demographic had the lowest university education rates, 79% were as likely to hold full-time employment as their non-Indigenous Canadian-born counterparts in 2021.

However, for immigrant women with university education obtained outside of Canada, their numbers were not as strong. In 2021, 66% of long-term immigrants with a university education obtained outside of Canada were working in full-time positions. The researchers suggest that credential recognition, parenthood and marital status contribute to these lower outcomes. Parenthood has been associated with a decline in full-time work across all groups studied however for married/common-law immigrant women with children, only 45% of women with young children (aged 1-5) held full-time employment.

Resettlement and Truth & Reconciliation

New immigrants to Canada are building bridges with Indigenous Peoples. Here’s why that matters (The Star)

The process of learning and unlearning is complex; however, efforts of truth and reconciliation must persist beyond a day. Newcomers are partnering with Indigenous community leaders to foster relationships to engage and advance reconciliation. For many newcomers to Canada, the truth of the country's history with Indigenous peoples often goes unacknowledged. Among the 94 calls to action made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission are recommendations that address newcomers to Canada. These include amendments to the citizenship study guide and test to include more Indigenous historical content and updating the Oath of Citizenship to observe treaties with Indigenous peoples. Advocates urge that stronger connections need to be made between Indigenous peoples and immigrant communities towards a mutually honouring relationship and awareness building for newcomers.

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