ARCHIVED – Portrait of an Integration Process

Finding Employment

According to a study by Picot, Hou and Coulombe (2007)1, it was concluded that recent immigrants who landed during 1990s had experienced deteriorating economic outcomes. Some immigrants face disadvantages in the labour market, especially newly arrived immigrants, as they lack contacts, knowledge and information of the host country labour market. During the initial four years, finding employment was the most critical challenge for the LSIC immigrants, which was indicated by the highest percentage encountering problems among the four main settlement and integration tasks in each wave (Table 1). How do the LSIC immigrants adapt to, and integrate into the Canadian labour market? The completion of all three waves draws a dynamic picture of this process.

Employment rate closer to Canadian average

Six months after their arrival, over 7 in 10 (72%) of the 157,600 LSIC immigrants had tried to find jobs. Two years after landing, 58% or 91,500 newcomers had looked for employment. Four years after arrival, the number dropped to 49% or 77,300 (Table 1). The declining trend of immigrants looking for jobs suggests improved employment status over time. As more immigrants secured jobs and were satisfied with current jobs, fewer continued to look for work. The employment to population ratio2 for all LSIC immigrants increased from 45% at 6 months after landing to 59% at two years and 68% at 4 years after arrival. This rate caught up with and surpassed the Canadian average employment rate of 62.7% in 20053.

However, the unemployment rate of 19% at 4 years after landing, though reduced compared to 37% at 6 months after arrival and 28% at 24 months after arrival, was much higher than the Canadian average rate of 6.8% in 20054. This result implies that in spite of substantial gains in terms of increased employment, new immigrants still faced challenges in finding employment.

Skilled workers were most likely to encounter labour market barriers

Among those who looked for employment, a large number of immigrants reported difficulties finding employment during the first 4 years in Canada. Six months after arrival, 78,600 or 70% immigrants had reported at least one problem finding employment, and two years after landing, 62,700 or 69% reported problems, while four years after arrival, the number dropped to 45,900 (59%). While this trend indicated moderate progress in the labour market, it differed by immigration category (Figure 2).

Skilled workers, both principal applicants and spouses and dependants, were most likely to report problems finding employment across all the three waves. However, there was a continuous decrease in proportions reporting difficulties in entering labour market for this group as time went on. Family class immigrants, other economic newcomers and refugees were less likely to report problems finding employment and the proportion encountering difficulties remained fairly consistent across three waves compared with skilled workers.

In spite of their labour market skills and higher employment rate, skilled workers were the group most prone to labour market barriers. If we look at the types of problems in finding employment, we may find some answers to this puzzle.

Of newcomers who had tried to look for jobs, the proportion reporting problems in finding employment increased with age. During the period between 24 months and 48 months following their landing, immigrants aged 15 to 24 years were less likely to encounter obstacles in entering labour market (48%) compared to their senior counterparts (61% for immigrants at 25 to 44 years and 66% for immigrants at 45 years and over). The combination of flexibility for employment, different perception of what constitutes a “good job” and better adaptation to the new labour market may explain the lower incidence rate of encountering employment barriers for younger labour market participants.

Figure 2: Encountered difficulties finding employment by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 2: Encountered difficulties finding employment by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Recognition of foreign qualifications or experience was critical, especially for skilled workers 

For all LSIC immigrants, the lack of Canadian work experience, foreign credential recognition and language problems were among the most serious problems reported in finding employment throughout the initial 4 years in Canada (Figure 3). However, problems relating to the recognition of foreign qualifications or experience were particularly serious for skilled workers, especially for skilled worker principal applicants. By the fourth year in Canada, this problem had become the most pronounced barrier (23%) for this group.

Younger newcomers aged 15 to 24 years cited a lack of Canadian work experience (30%) and a shortage of employment opportunities (21%) as the most serious problems in finding work, while those in prime working age (25 to 44 years) reported foreign credential recognition (20%) and lack of Canadian experience (19%) as the top 2 most serious problems when finding jobs. For immigrants aged at 45 years and over, foreign credential recognition (21%) and language problems (18%) were problematic in seeking employment.

Figure 3: Top 3 problems in finding employment by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 3: Top 3 problems in finding employment by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Although the proportion of immigrants reporting language as an obstacle in entering labour market decreased over time for almost all immigration categories, lack of knowledge of one of Canada’s official languages was still the most serious problem faced by refugees and other economic immigrants 4 years after landing (25% and 22%, respectively).

Newcomers in Quebec faced greater obstacles while those in Prairies fared better in the labour market

Newcomers living in Quebec faced greater obstacles in the labour market. As shown in Figure 4, employment to population ratio of the immigrants in the province of Quebec was the lowest among all the provinces at three different points in time. The employment rate in British Columbia was below-average throughout the initial 4 years. In contrast, immigrants in the Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta) continued to fare better than their counterparts in any other province. The proportion of immigrants encountering difficulties in entering labour market showed a consistent distribution with the employment rate. During the period 2 years to 4 years after landing, of those who had looked for jobs, immigrants in Quebec (61%), Ontario (64%) and British Columbia (53%) were more likely to report encountering barriers in finding jobs. Examining the most serious problem reported finding employment by provinces, language problems and foreign credential recognition ranked as the top 2 difficulties for immigrants in Quebec. The differences among provinces reflect local economic and labour market conditions in the specific regions during this period.

Figure 4: Employment rate by province of residence — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 4: Employment rate by province of residence — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Immigrants were more likely to receive help in the first six months

More than 1 in 5 newcomers who encountered labour market problems asked for some sort of help for the most serious problem in finding employment at 4 years after landing (Figure 4)5. We found that newcomers were more likely to receive help in the first 6 months in Canada. Overall, 35% of immigrants received assistance for employment problems during the initial interview period and this share fell to 21% in Wave 2 and 22% in Wave 3. Refugees and immigrants who landed in the other economic class, showed dramatic decreases in the percentages receiving help from 6 months to 2 years after landing (from 41% to 16% for refugees and from 52% and 21% for other economic class).

Figure 5: Received help for the most serious problem in finding employment, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 5: Received help for the most serious problem in finding employment, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Social networks continued to play an important role in assisting immigrants overcoming labour market barriers

Social capital played an important role in assisting the LSIC immigrants participate in the labour market. Friendship networks were the most important resource on which newcomers relied for employment problems all through the first 4 years in Canada (Table 2), particularly for economic immigrants (Skilled worker principal applicants and spouse and dependants, and other economic categories). It is not surprising to see that relatives and family members were the main source of assistance for family class immigrants, given the presence of kinship network upon arrival for this group. Refugees tended to rely on family and immigration agencies in the initial months (37% and 23% respectively at 6 months after landing), and as time went on, friendship became the main sources of help for them (39% and 32%, 2 years after landing and 4 years after landing, respectively).

It is worth noting that the role of government agencies in helping newcomers enter the labour market appeared more important as time went by. At 4 years after landing, government agencies had become the second most reported source of assistance for all LSIC immigrants (22%) while at 6 months after arrival, only 11% of newcomers received help from government agencies.

Table 2: Sources of help for the most serious problem finding employment by immigration category

Selected types of unmet needs Immigration Category
Family Class Skilled Workers (PA) Skilled Workers (S&D) Other Economic Refugees All Immigrants2
Immigrants who received help for the most serious problem finding employment - Wave 1 5,919 12,136 6,573 1,121 1,583 27,443
Selected sources of help – Wave 1
Friend 26% 44% 33% 51% 17% 36%
Relative/family member 58% 13% 18% 31% 37% 26%
School 14%E 17% 22% 17% 20% 18%
Immigrant agency 6%E 14% 13% 6%E 23% 12%
Government agency 5%E 16% 11% F F 11%
Immigrants who received help for the most serious problem finding employment - Wave 2 2,580 5,881 3,645 386 848 13,437
Selected sources of help – Wave 2
Friend 29%E 36% 36% 64% 39% 36%
School 16%E 22% 21%E F 18%E 20%
Government agency 15%E 24% 18%E F 13%E 19%
Relative/family member 32%E 6%E 12%E F F 14%
Immigrants who asked for help for the most serious problem finding employment - Wave 31 1,947 4,396 2,865 211E 602 10,048
Selected sources of help – Wave 3
Friend 41%E 43% 37% F 32%E 41%
Government agency 24%E 22%E 22%E F 28%E 22%
School 9%E 18%E 18%E F F 16%
Relative/family member 17%E F 14%E F F 11%

1Source question was changed substantially in the Wave 3 questionnaire. Instead of asked about whether the LR received help for the most serious problem in finding employment, the question was asked about whether the LR asked for the most serious problem in finding employment

2All immigrants include a small number of immigrants who landed in the categories not mentioned in the table.

EUse with caution.

F Too unreliable to be released.

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

Approximately 3 in 10 immigrants reported not receiving assistance needed for problems finding employment throughout the first 4 years

Among the newcomers who encountered difficulties in finding employment, quite a number of immigrants reported that they had not received help needed for the most serious problem. The proportion across waves was quite stable: 30% at 6 months after landing, 26% at 2 years, and 28% at 4 years after arrival. Skilled workers, both principal applicants and spouse and dependents, were more likely to report having unmet needs. Surprisingly as time went on, more family class immigrants reported needing but not receiving help (19% at 6 months after landing, 20% at 2 years after arrival, and 23% at 4 years after landing), which is contrary to the decreasing trend of reporting unmet needs for all the other immigration categories.

Figure 6: Immigrants who did not receive help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Figure 6: Immigrants who did not receive help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment, by immigration category — Wave 1, 2, and 3

Information and advice were most needed when entering labour market while the need for work-related training emerged over time

Information on local labour market opportunities and advice were the most urgent needs that the LSIC immigrants required in their initial labour market integration process (Table 3). These two types of needs were the most frequently cited assistance needed throughout three waves. By the end of the 4th year in Canada, 37% and 27% of immigrants reported needing information and advice respectively. Another notable trend is that as time went by, the needs of work related training became more and more important for the LSIC immigrants as a whole, especially during the period from 2 years after landing to 4 years after arrival (proportion changed substantially from 7% at 2 years after landing to 31% 2 years later).

Over half (52%) of immigrants aged 15 to 24 years old reporting unmet needs cited information help as the assistance needed but not received, while 32% of those in prime working age (25 to 44 years) expressed the need for work-related training.

Table 3: Selected types of help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment 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 did not get help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment - Wave 1 2,824 12,739 6,689 498 892 23,756
Advice/counselling 40% 46% 44% F 34% 44%
Information 37% 39% 42% F 36% 39%
Language 12%E 10% 10% F 23%E 11%
Financial 11%E 9% 9% F 19%E 10%
Immigrants who did not get help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment - Wave 2 2,358 9,008 3841 409 809 16,533
Information 50% 45% 40% 58%E 42% 44%
Advice/counselling 37% 41% 38% 42%E 39% 39%
Language 15%E 7% 12% F 14%E 10%
Financial 11%E 8% 8%E F 16%E 8%
Work related training 8%E 9% F F F 7%
Immigrants who did not get help needed for the most serious problem in finding employment - Wave 3 1,886 6,065 3,678 340E 707 12,840
Information 33%E 37% 39% F 38%E 37%
Work related training 31%E 34% 30% F 26%E 31%
Advice/counselling 25%E 28% 26% F 29%E 27%
Language F 7%E 9%E F F 8%

1All immigrants include a small number of immigrants who landed in the categories not mentioned in the table.

EUse with caution.

F Too unreliable to be released.

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

Notes

1Picot, G., Hou, F., and Coulombe, S., 2007, “Chronic low-income and low-income dynamics among recent immigrants”, Analytical Studies Research Paper Series, No. 294, Statistics Canada.

2For detailed labour force statistics of the LSIC immigrants, see Appendix.

3Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, tables 282-0002 and 282-0022 and Catalogue no. 71F0004XCB.

4Source: Statistics Canada, CANSIM, tables 282-0002 and 282-0022 and Catalogue no. 71F0004XCB.

5Source question was changed substantially in the Wave 3 questionnaire. Instead of asked about whether the LR received help for the most serious problem in finding employment (as the case in the previous two waves), the question was asked about whether the LR asked for help for the most serious problem in finding employment.

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