Canadian employment perspectives

Most new immigrants are pleased to be living in Canada, and appreciate our social and political environment. However, their biggest difficulties, even after four years in the country, remain finding an adequate job and surmounting the language barrier.

A study of 25- to 44-year-old immigrants who arrived in Canada between April 2002 and March 2004 found that 62% of them were still looking for a job between 7 and 24 months after arrival. Fifty-three percent were still looking 25 to 48 months after arrival.

Most immigrant job-seekers reported difficulties searching for work. Cited most often were: the lack of Canadian work experience (50%); lack of contacts in the job market (37%); lack of recognition of either foreign experience (37%) or foreign qualifications (35%); and the language barrier (32%).

About 16% of the job-seekers cited language problems as their most serious difficulty. The 2001 Census shows that only 18% of immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1996 and 2001 spoke English or French as their mother tongue, down sharply from 40% of immigrants who arrived during the 1970s.

However, most eventually overcame these difficulties. The employment rate of the immigrants in this study rose from 51% six months after their arrival to 65% two years after arrival, then 75% after four years in Canada; the rate for Canadians in the 25-to-44 age group is 82%.

Immigrants’ employment rates, and the quality of their employment—a job in their field, at a high skill level, and a good wage—improve with their ability to speak English. Employment rates were also better for immigrants who spoke French

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