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Educated immigrants need 10 years to match degrees to jobs - By : Shannon Proudfoot, Canwest News Service

mardi 24 novembre 2009 par William Toussaint

Foreign credentials still not recognized

Two-thirds of university-educated recent immigrants to Canada are underemployed in jobs requiring no more than a college education or apprenticeship, according to a new Statistics Canada report.

Looking at Canada’s immigrant labour market in 2008, a report released Monday found that immigrant wages were lower while involuntary part-time work and temporary employment were more common than among Canadianborn workers.

However, after 10 years in Canada, immigrant employment looks similar to that of their Canadian-born counterparts.

In all, more than 1.1 million workers aged 25 to 54 with a university degree were under-employed in jobs requiring a college education or apprenticeship last year, and immigrants are 1.5 times more likely to fall into that category than their Canadian-born counterparts.

"It’s a confirmation of what we see," says Allison Pond, executive director of ACCESS Employment Services in Toronto. "The issues still remain. There’s a lack of recognition of foreign-trained credentials and access to the labour market ; we still are facing barriers. I see it as something we’re continuing to work to change."

The job landscape is uneven as Canada emerges from the recession, she says, because they see elevated unemployment in some sectors while others—including IT and finance— are short of skilled workers.

Average weekly wages were$23.72 an hour for Canadian-born in the core working age group of 25 to 54 last year, according to Statistics Canada, $2.28 more than that of immigrant workers. The wage gap was larger—about $5 per hour— among those who had arrived within the last five years and between immigrants and Canadian-born workers with university degrees.

Teddy Li knows he is one of the lucky ones. The 32-year-old native of China arrived in Toronto in July after spending two years earning his MBA at the University of North Carolina, and he just passed an interview with a major bank that plans to offer him a job as a financial adviser.

He believes holding a degree from a North American university boosted his job prospects, but Li says he found it challenging to compete with the contact networks of people who attended local universities and he credits speed-mentoring events at ACCES in part with helping him land a job in a tough economic climate.

"Especially compared to current market situations, I can’t complain," Li says. "Even some graduates from local universities, I’ve heard lots of people are still looking for jobs, so I can’t complain."

In 2008, 5.2 per cent of both immigrant and Canadian-born workers were holding down more than one job, but moonlighting immigrants worked 50.0 hours per week on average, 2.3 hours more than their Canadian-born counterparts. The gap was particularly noticeable for those who had been in Canada for 10 years or more, according to Statistics Canada.

Among immigrants who arrived in Canada within the last five years, the proportion who worked in temporary jobs was 16 per cent, double that of their Canadian-born counterparts. However, among those who had been in Canada at least a decade, the number of those working temporary jobs was lower than among Canadian-born workers.

Daniel Hirschkorn, director of Saskatoon Immigration and Employment Consulting Services Inc., says they have seen a trickle-down effect in immigrants’prospects through the recession. During the boom times, newcomers to Canada with trades experience could get well-paying jobs in that field, leaving many food and hospitality sector jobs open, he says.

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