World Education Services (WES) conducted a survey-based study to examine predictors of skilled immigrants’ career success. They examined the demographic characteristics of skilled immigrants as well as their experience and education, and studied how these factors affect their labour market outcomes.
They looked at:
- Demographic characteristics, prior education, sector, years of experience, education level, and more
- The extent to which employed respondents are doing work that is broadly commensurate with their previous education and experience
The report also includes the implications of these findings and identifies evidence gaps that require further research.
Predictors of employment:
- Gender: Men were 1.6 times more likely to be employed than women
- Age: Older respondents were significantly less likely to be employed; younger (age 20–29) survey respondents were most likely to be employed
- Canadian experience: Those who immigrated under Canadian Experience Class (skilled workers who have Canadian work experience) were 2.4 times more likely to be employed than those who immigrated through other economic immigration categories
- Education level: Employment rates declined at each successive degree level
- International work experience: Employment rates declined as years of international work experience increased
- Sector prior to immigrating: Respondents who previously worked in food services were eight times more likely to be employed than those in other sectors; those in manufacturing two times more likely, those in the professional/technical sector 1.6 times more likely, and those in IT 1.5 times more likely.
Predictors of employment commensurate with prior skills, education, experience:
- Gender: Female survey respondents were less likely to be in commensurate employment
- English proficiency: Higher levels of English proficiency were associated with commensurate employment
- Canadian experience: Survey respondents with previous Canadian experience were more likely to be working in commensurate employment
- Sector: Survey respondents who worked in the IT and professional sectors prior to immigrating were more likely to be working in commensurate employment than those previously employed in other sectors
- Regulated profession: Survey respondents who reported working previously in a profession that is regulated in Canada were significantly less likely to be working in commensurate employment
- Country of education: Where respondents completed their degree was significant: U.S.-educated respondents were more likely to be in commensurate work than those who earned degrees in other countries
It was notable that both level of degree and years of international experience were not significantly associated with commensurate employment.
Pre- and post-migration shifts in sector and seniority:
- A high proportion of respondents had to change work sectors postmigration. Less than half were working in the same sector as they were pre-migration (though most preferred to stay in the same sector).
- There was a substantial decline in the proportion of survey respondents who were in management positions, from nearly half of respondents pre-migration, to approximately one-quarter post-migration.
While the gap between unemployment rates of immigrants and those of the Canadian-born has narrowed considerably, the study results indicate that many immigrants still encounter persistent barriers to commensurate employment in the Canadian labour market. More research evidence is needed to identify what specific policies and practices lead to better outcomes. Comparative research on the employment outcomes of skilled immigrants in other immigrant-receiving countries may shed new light. We need to build new (or scale existing) evidence-based policy interventions to improve opportunities for immigrants to obtain commensurate employment. The country benefits when immigrants can fully participate in the Canadian economy. The results of this research point to many opportunities to further refine policies and practices so that skilled immigrants can more fully contribute their skills and education to the Canadian workforce. Specifically, policy makers and practitioners need to gather information and data that will allow stakeholders to effectively address several key concerns:
- Employer confidence in international experience: Respondents’ employment outcomes showed that their international work and academic experience was undervalued; providing evidence of the potential for competency-informed assessments to help elucidate the relevant skills, knowledge, experience, and judgment of immigrant job seekers may help to remedy this situation.
- Information: Immigrants continue to need more effective information about employment in Canada. There is an ongoing need to deliver realistic, specific, targeted, accurate, and timely employment information to prospective and recent immigrants.
- Access to regulated professions and trades: Despite successful interventions in this area such as profession-specific bridging programs, challenges persist. More evidence is needed to identify which specific interventions, resources, and employer or regulatory practices enable immigrants to successfully navigate all the steps required to re-enter a regulated occupation in Canada
- Services and interventions: All those working toward the integration of skilled immigrants need to collectively identify which specific employment services and service delivery models lead to the best results for skilled immigrant job seekers, and focus on services that help immigrants develop social capital and professional connections.
Download the Executive Summary (PDF).
Research at a Glance is designed to inform the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) community and other interested parties about recently published, policy-relevant research from government, academic and NGO sources. The views expressed in the documents described do not necessarily reflect those of IRCC.