Why do so many skilled immigrants have a hard time finding jobs in Canada?
Some newcomers struggle to understand and navigate the labour market. Other people might be doing everything right, but employers simply won’t recognize their international experience. Then, there is a group of people who know they need to continue their training in order to thrive; however, they might not be able to afford the costs of these professional development tracks.
Luckily, there are solutions for these challenges. You can overcome each of these roadblocks with one of the following solutions:
- Career counselling
- Credential evaluations
- Professional microloans
Continue reading to learn more about the common barriers for internationally trained workers. Plus, find out what sort of help is available.
When skilled immigrants move to Canada, they often expect to find work right away that is equivalent to the job they held in their home country. Instead, individuals who were working as successful dentists, accountants, or mechanics in their home countries may find themselves working survival jobs in order to put food on the table.
“Many highly trained newcomers to Canada are not living up to their full potential,” says Claudia Valenzuela, a career counsellor who has helped migrants enter the Canadian workforce for more than 17 years and now works for Career Loans.
She describes a high-level banker who was once her client: He had more than 14 years of experience in South America, but he worked on an assembly line to support his family once he moved to Canada.
Why are these highly trained professionals having so much difficulty integrating into the Canadian workforce?
While every situation is unique, Claudia says there are some common reasons that prevent skilled immigrants from reaching their true potential.
For example, newcomers often take a while to grasp workplace culture in Canada. She provides career counselling on topics like:
- Email etiquette
- Small talk
- Body language
- CV formatting
- Interview skills
Cultural differences can be deal-breakers that prolong or even ruin a newcomer’s job search.
Employers are generally looking for individuals who will be a great addition to their teams—not just in terms of their talent, but also in terms of their social skills. Finding a worker who can build great rapport with other colleagues, and other professional contacts, is important. But newcomers might not be aware of subtle traits that are valued in Canada.
“Cultural differences may prevent employers from hiring internationally trained individuals,” says Claudia. “For example: In South America, it is common to interrupt conversations to demonstrate engagement. However, that might come across as rude when participating in a Canadian interview.”
Another problem is that employers do not recognize degrees from international colleges and universities. In some cases, all you need is a credential evaluation
You can start by learning what your degree might be worth in Canada using a Degree Equivalency Tool; then, you can start an application to receive a verified credential evaluation that employers trust and value from World Education Services.
These processes take time and money to complete. These are both things that may not be available to recent migrants who are trying to support their families. Securing money to help fund accreditation and examination fees can help individuals expedite their career trajectory. However, newcomers can face obstacles when they apply for traditional bank loans because they lack credit history in Canada.
This is a major reason that many immigrants are forced to work survival jobs—often for years at a time—when they first arrive in Canada.
Much like the high-level banker who found himself working on an assembly line, many newcomers do not have the resources to access the programs that will help them return to their desired career fields.
If individuals have pursued career counselling, and if they already have a reliable degree equivalency report, they might be in a position where the only thing holding them back is additional training and development. In this case, microloans might be able to help them return to their desired career.
“It is important for us to assess each client on a case-by-case situation, because we need to determine the barriers preventing them from returning to the workforce,” says Claudia. “By understanding each unique situation, we can develop a personalized strategy to help clients succeed in their careers—whether that be through career counselling, getting a microloan, or both.”
Microloans are small sums of money that qualifying individuals can borrow at a low interest rate in order to help them achieve professional goals. There are several ways to obtain this type of loan in Canada, even if you are a recent immigrant.
In Alberta or Saskatchewan, two of Canada’s provinces, you can reach out to Career Loans. Funded by the Canadian government, Career Loans specifically aims to help newcomers reintegrate into the workforce. One of the greatest benefits is that clients can schedule one-on-one career counselling appointments with professionals like Claudia. Together, they discuss the client’s educational background, employment history, and goals to determine how microloans might help them succeed in Canada.
However, there are several options available across Canada. In Ontario, individuals might be interested in one of many Foreign Credential Recognition programs, such as the one available through The Centre for Education & Training. It also provides career counselling and loans, and is supported by the federal government.
One more organization to explore is Windmill Microlending. A WES Expert Ambassador recently wrote all about the programs that are available through this microloan option for immigrants and refugees for the WES Advisor Blog.
In British Columbia, newcomers might want to consider S.U.C.C.E.S.S. FCR. It offers similar programs to the two listed above.
Just be sure to research microloans carefully and be sure you’re making the right choice before you commit!
Continue Your Path to Professional Success
Integrating into the Canadian workforce is a long process. In order to compete in the labour market, immigrants must take advantage of every resource available to them.
While this might seem difficult at first, there are many success stories to prove that newcomers can return to their field of work. Or, they might choose to finally pursue the role of their dreams. With the right support, it is possible to achieve higher levels of success than ever before.
And how about the banker from South America?
Claudia is happy to report that he is now working as a successful financial advisor for one of the major banks in Canada.
It can happen for you, too.
“Don’t wait for things to happen,” she says. “Take action and make your dreams a reality.”
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of World Education Services (WES).