Employment Immigrant workers are earning far less than their Canadian-born counterparts

New Brunswick Business Journal
April 25, 2009

Donna Nebenzahl
Canwest News Service

MONTREAL – Immigrants face particular challenges in the job market, starting with getting a job – I can’t count the number of cabbies I’ve met with engineering degrees – all the way to wage disparity.

As Microsoft Canada vice-president Sharif Khan told an IT audience last year in Toronto, few immigrants have Canadian experience, yet companies insist on it. More than that, a new Canadian’s degrees and even their work experience obtained in another country are often grudgingly respected in this nation. They are minimized and undervalued, reported ITBusiness.ca.

Khan argued that by 2011, the average immigrant male would earn up to 48 per cent less than his Canada-born counterpart.

“We need to challenge this idea of Canadian experience,” he said.

It’s a fact, he told the audience, that Canadian graduates with computer science, math and engineering degrees are declining, so much that a continuing decline will leave more than 90,000 unfilled positions in the next three to five years.

Certain segments of the workforce need to be better equipped with the tools to succeed, he said.

He described a “roll out the red carpet” strategy that would include relocation assistance and additional support for families. “We need to maximize the potential of new Canadians and to be more aggressive in bringing them in,” he said.

Evelina Silveira, founder of diversityintheworkplace.com, would take this support many steps further. She believes that the talent of new Canadians can be successfully exploited by companies that do the following:

  • Recognize foreign credentials and experience when screening applications.
  • Revise the interview process to accommodate cultures that have difficulty talking about their strengths.
  • Create a ‘Newcomers to Canada’ Internet portal on your careers website that provides information on foreign credentials assessment.
  • Screen candidates on technical skills prior to an interview to eliminate cultural barriers.
  • Pay the licensing fees for new Canadians seeking to gain certification.
  • Provide six-week placements in a corporate training program to help immigrants gain experience.
  • Provide on-site testing during the hiring process to evaluate practical skills in addition to considering international credentials.
  • Conduct regular outreach employment presentations for community centres, programs and agencies that aid new Canadians.

Reference: New Brunswick Business Journal