ARCHIVED – Portrait of an Integration Process

Accessing education and/or training

Acquiring education or training courses in Canada is associated with social integration and labour market success for many new immigrants. It is regarded by most immigrants as a way to improve their skills and facilitate their integration in Canada. According to a study based on the LSIC Wave 1, the vast majority (89%) of the LSIC newcomers reported that it was very important or important to their future to further their education or training in Canada1. During the 4 years following their landing, a significant number of newcomers took education or training courses in the initial years (45%, 29% and 24% at 6 months, 2 years and 4 years after landing, respectively).

Lowest involvement rate among four integration tasks

In spite of relatively large number of immigrants taking education or training courses in the initial years, this task involved the least number of immigrants compared to other domains.

Through the first 4 years, quite a number of newcomers reported barriers in accessing education: 27% (or about 42,400) at 6 months after landing2, 15% (or 24,200) at 2 years after arrival and 17% (or 26,800) by the 4th year in Canada (Table 4). Among the immigration categories, refugees were most likely to report problems in accessing education (27%) while family class immigrants were least likely to report difficulties (14%) 4 years after arrival.

Table 4: Had problems in getting education by immigration category

Selected types of unmet needs Immigration Category
Family Class Skilled Workers (PA) Skilled Workers (S&D) Other Economic Refugees All Immigrants1
All immigrants 42,615 54,527 40,016 9,835 9,741 157,615
Immigrants who had problems in getting education2 - Wave 1 19% 31% 31% 29% 25% 27%
Immigrants who had problems in getting education - Wave 2 13% 16% 16% 12% 25% 15%
Immigrants who had problems in getting education - Wave 3 14% 16% 19% 20% 27% 17%

1All immigrants include a small number of immigrants who landed in the classes not specified in the table

2The coverages were different in 3 waves. Education or training included language training in the Wave 1 questionnaire while excluding language training in the Wave 2 and 3 questionnaires.

Source: Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada - Wave 3, 2005

Financial time constraints the most serious hindrance to accessing education

For all LSIC immigrants, the most serious problem accessing education or training shifted from language obstacles at 6 months after landing to financial constraints at 2 and 4 years after landing (Figure 7). Meanwhile, time constraints had ranked the second most serious problem at 2 years after landing, followed by language barriers. This pattern was consistent for all immigration categories and prominent for skilled workers: a majority of skilled workers cited financial or time constraints as the main difficulties accessing education or training (67% for SWPA3 and 52% for SWSD4) at 4 years after arrival. Because of financial and time constraints, many immigrants may have chosen not to take part in education or training.

Language barriers were a critical obstacle for refugees and other economic immigrants. By the 4th year in Canada, among all the immigrants who reported encountering problems accessing education, 22% of refugees and 32% of other economic class immigrants claimed that language barriers was the most serious difficulty.

Figure 7: The most serious problem in getting education, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 7: The most serious problem in getting education, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

The types of difficulties accessing education varied a little by age group. Younger immigrants aged 15 to 25 years were more likely to report financial pressure (36%), while older newcomers were more likely to report time constraints (13%, 24% and 28% for those aged 15 to 24 years, 25 to 44 years, 45 years and over, respectively) between 2 years after landing and 4 years after landing.

Proportion of immigrants receiving help and those not receiving help needed decreased over time

Among the immigrants who encountered difficulties accessing education or training, nearly 2 in 10 (17%) received help for the most serious problem at 4 years after landing, a decrease from 38% at 6 months after landing and 19% at 2 years after arrival (Table 5). The biggest decline occurred for refugees: while almost half (48%) of the refugees who encountered difficulties received help at 6 months, this proportion dropped to 16% and 10% at 2 years and 4 years after landing. What does this trend show? Does it indicate less assistance is given to immigrants for education? Further evidence to this question will be examined when we look at the proportion of newcomers reporting not receiving help needed for education problems.

Among those immigrants who encountered barriers accessing education or training, more than 3 in 10 (32%) had not received the help they needed for the most serious problem in the first 2 years while only 23% reported so at 4 years after landing. Consistent with this pattern, all immigration categories exhibited the same decreasing trend, except for newcomers in the other economic class. Refugees experienced the greatest decrease: 38% for the first 2 waves and 20% at 4 years after arrival reported unmet needs.

Putting the above two conclusions together, the concurrent decline in the proportions of immigrants receiving assistance and having needs unmet might reflect a reduced demand for assistance in the area of accessing education or training: Newcomers had fewer unmet needs and as a result, requested and received less help from others. It appears that refugees made the greatest gains, which is reflected by the biggest declines of reported unmet needs for this group. By the 4th year in Canada, immigrants landed in economic class were most likely to report needing but not receiving help, especially for skilled worker principal applicants (27%).

Table 5: Received help and had unmet needs for the most serious problem in getting education by immigration category

Selected types of unmet needs Immigration Category
Family Class Skilled Workers (PA) Skilled Workers (S&D) Other Economic Refugees All Immigrants1
Immigrants who had problems in getting education - Wave 1 7,895 16,763 12,266 2,855 2,437 42,388
Immigrants who had received help for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 1 44% 31% 40% 39% 48% 38%
Immigrants who had not got help needed for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 1 27% 34% 33% 12%E 38% 32%
Immigrants who had problems in getting education - Wave 2 5,515 8,464 6,427 1,207 2,411 24,194
Immigrants who had received help for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 2 18% 20% 22% 16%E 16%E 19%
Immigrants who had not got help needed for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 2 30% 34% 31% 15%E 38% 32%
Immigrants who had problems in getting education - Wave 3 6,017 8,541 7,428 1,955 2,647 26,768
Immigrants who had received help for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 3 15% 18% 19% 18%E 10%E 17%
Immigrants who had not got help needed for the most serious problem in getting education - Wave 3 18% 27% 24% 24%E 20% 23%

1All immigrants include a small number of immigrants who landed in the classes not specified in the table.

EUse with caution.

Source: Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada - Wave 3, 2005

School, friends, government and family helped newcomers overcome problems accessing education or training

Social networks continued to play an important role assisting newcomers accessing education or training. Friends and family were reported as the top sources of assistance for educational problems all through the first 4 years. However, relatives dropped out of the top 3 most frequently cited sources at 2 years after landing, ranking after school, friends, and government agencies in the Wave 2 and Wave 3 interviews.

Examining the main sources of help by immigration category, we found that the largest difference was between family class and skilled worker principal applicants. Throughout the three waves, family class immigrants relied on relatives and family members for problems in this area (65%, 20% and 29% at 6 months, 2 years and 4 years after landing respectively), while skilled worker principal applicants tended to rely on friends for assistance (42%, 21% and 16%). The extent of the dominance of specific networks as the source of help in the initial months reduced over time. Immigrants tended to rely on multiple resources to overcome training related difficulties. School and government agencies gradually became the main source of help for the LSIC newcomers.

Figure 8: Main source of help for the most serious problem accessing education or training, by immigration category – Wave 1, 2, and 3.

Figure 8: Main source of help for the most serious problem accessing education or training, by immigration category – Wave 1, 2, and 3.

Financial help, information and advice constantly needed for helping with problems accessing education or training

Financial help, information and advice were consistently identified as barriers to accessing education or training through the first 4 years. By the end of 4th year, 52% of immigrants reported needing but not receiving help needed for their most serious problem in accessing education, financial help, followed by information (39%) and advice or counselling (19%). Little variation occurred across immigration categories.

Immigrants in different age groups identified different needs when accessing education or training. Newcomers aged 15 to 24 years cited information as most needed (35%) at 4 years after landing while those in prime working age (25 to 44 years) and  those 45 years over reported financial assistance as the most cited need (52% and 56% respectively).

Notes

1Statistics Canada (2005), “Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada - A Portrait of Early Settlement Experiences”, Catalogue no. 89-614-XPE, pp46.

2As the coverage changed in Wave 2 and 3 to exclude language training from the education entity, the proportion reporting difficulties in getting education excluding language courses in Wave 1 was expected to be smaller than 27%.

3SWPA – skilled worker principal applicants.

4SWSD – skilled worker spouse and dependants.

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