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Job-hunting particularly hard for educated new immigrants - By : Suzanne Fournier, The Province

mardi 24 novembre 2009 par William Toussaint

Two-thirds forced to take part-time, lower-paid jobs

Jerry Wang knows first-hand the hard, cold facts of a Statistics Canada report, released Monday, that found two-thirds of university-educated new immigrants find it hard to get paid work in their field.

Armed with a University of Western Ontario business degree, Wang, 28, searched for a job in Vancouver for two years after his 2004 graduation, but then was forced to go to Shanghai to get work experience in financial analysis and real estate.

Now Wang is back in Vancouver, with both business experience and education, looking for a job that matches his skill set in the city’s burgeoning real-estate market.

"It’s hard, because in the business world, you have to know people and build up a network and, even though I have a business degree and experience, all I’m being offered is sales jobs or selling bonds," said Wang, who took a two-week employment course offered through S.U.C.C.E.S.S., which gets government funding to help new immigrants.

Wang says he’s determined to find work as a financial adviser and appraiser in real estate.

"I know I have the skills, the education and I speak English, because I’ve been living mostly in Canada since I was 19, and I am confident I’ll get a job," said Wang, adding he’s "fortunate" to get financial help from his family.

Veronica Grigio, who emigrated to Canada from Argentina five months ago with a university degree in anthropology, landed a job at the Italian Cultural Centre.

Grigio, 28, plans to go to university in Vancouver to further her education and get a job in her field.

"I know it is a struggle to get the right job . . . I am interested in studies and a career in medical anthropology," said Grigio, who adds that she appreciates the receptionist job she has "because I’m able to meet a lot of people."

The StatsCan report, based on labour data from 2008, found two-thirds of university-educated new immigrants were forced to take part-time or temporary work, lower-paid jobs or more than one job.

There are physicians working as cabbies, anthropologists applying at Tim Hortons and engineers who bus tables.

Canadian-born graduates with a university degree, aged 25 to 54, also tended to be under-employed but the job market was almost twice as bad for new immigrants.

Average weekly wages were $23.72 per hour for Canadian-born workers in the core working age group of 25 to 54, which was $2.28 more than that of immigrant workers, according to the report.

The wage gap was larger — about $5 per hour — between those who arrived in the past five years and Canadian-born workers with university degrees.

"There is light at the end of the tunnel, though, because new immigrants who work hard on language skills and credentials do start to get the jobs they are searching for, over time and with help," noted Ronald Ma, a manager at S.U.C.C.E.S.S. who runs pre-employment programs.

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