Underemployment challenges persist for immigrants

posted on January 25, 2019

By HR Reporter

Despite progress, issues remain with pay gap, integration: Report

While Canadian newcomers’ ability to find skills-commensurate employment is improving, troubles including underemployment, lower wages and weaker integration persist, according to a new report.

Newcomers with a Canadian degree continue to fare better than those without, said Denise McLean, an eCaliber Group consultant in Hamilton, Ont., who co-authored the report for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC).

“Sixty per cent of newcomer males work in jobs below their level of education,” she said. “That’s an example of underemployment, where those skills are not really being leveraged within the workforce.”

Female newcomers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who hold a university degree earn half the amount of their Canadian-born peers, a statistic that has remained static since 2003, she said.

Fewer immigrant men are rising to the top of the pay scale, compared to their Canadian-born peers, according to the report, State of Immigrant Inclusion 2018.

And immigrants remain underrepresented in senior positions, even though they make up 52 per cent of the GTA’s university-educated workforce, found the report, based on a review of reports and policy documents from 2000 to 2018, a survey of about 200 people, discussions with nine leaders of Professional Immigrant Networks and 25 employers, interviews with 12 stakeholders, policy experts and service providers, and government data.

“Very few employers (13 per cent) have a specific focus on advancing immigrants to more senior roles,” said McLean. “All of those results show how those talents and skills are being underutilized.”

And many still believe “hiring the best” is at odds with focusing on immigrant talent, she said.

“They don’t necessarily see that by removing the biases, by looking at best practices, that is how they will hire the best. That’s still a gap in awareness and understanding.”

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