SURVEY: Half of B.C. immigrants say they do not find jobs matching their training, skills and experience

posted on February 21, 2019

By Globe News Wire |

Newcomers with professional and trades skills feel welcomed in B.C. but most say their workplace credentials are undervalued, leading to economic difficulties and employment exclusion, according to a new survey by Vancity in partnership with Angus Reid Global.

Of 400 immigrants surveyed in B.C., 34% say they have amassed debt due to employment difficulties experienced here, and 44% say it has been difficult to provide for their families. The figures are even higher among those looking for work in their chosen field, in which they are trained or have previous work experience.

Among those seeking employment in their chosen field, only half (49%) say they are able to find work at levels that match their credentials. The rest say they take work in junior positions or find work in different fields. Most newcomers agree that their work experience (70%), professional qualifications (67%) and education (66%) from their countries of origin are less respected than the Canadian equivalents.

The survey was conducted in advance of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) Summit, a major international event hosted by Vancity on February 19 and 20 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Summit participants will explore how values-based banking can address social, environmental and economic challenges. Vancity, for example, supports the federal Foreign Credential Recognition Loans program for organizations helping new Canadians find work in their chosen fields.

The vast majority (90%) of newcomers surveyed say they are glad they immigrated to Canada, and 86% feel that Canadians are generally welcoming of them. But 62% believe they had to overcome racism in order to land a job.

“When newcomers don’t find work in their professions or trades, the effects are broadly felt. They include intergenerational poverty,” says Catherine Ludgate, Vancity’s senior manager of community investment. “By assigning fair value to international workplace credentials, we all stand to benefit.”

“New Canadians tell us that all the experience and education they’ve accumulated gives them only a 50/50 shot at being employed at an appropriate level in B.C.,” says Demetre Eliopoulos, Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Angus Reid Public Affairs. “Those are low odds for credentials they’ve worked so hard to attain.”

A parallel survey of 800 B.C. residents—82% of them Canadian-born—reveals a high degree of sympathy for newcomers and a general understanding of the employment difficulties they face. Almost two-thirds (64%) of B.C. residents feel that local employers should consider foreign credentials as equivalent to Canadian credentials.

However, while most newcomers (53%) say education standards in their countries of origin are better than education standards in Canada, only 31% of B.C. residents agree that newcomers are better educated than Canadians. And 78% of B.C. residents say newcomers should get additional education when they come to Canada.

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