In many instances, immigrants relocate to Canada for a chance of a better or peaceful life and for the future of their children, but in recent unfortunate events, most immigrants have reported the struggle they encountered in finding jobs with the prior labor experience and qualifications obtained from their home countries.
As a child of an immigrant, myself, I understand the sacrifices my mother had to endure, being underemployed upon arriving in Canada, just to make ends meets for the sake of her children. I can also attest from my own experience that qualifications from my home country, Botswana, lay collecting dust in my storage, although not for lack of trying.
According to statistics Canada, over 34% of immigrants in the past 10 years are in low skilled jobs despite being selected into the country due to their higher education and skill. The burning question then remain, what obstacles are blocking the path for these skilled workers in contributing professionally to their new homeland?
Pooran Appadu got accepted in the masters program in Bio Resource Engineering in 2014, as a transfer student to the University of Alberta from Guyana where he had been working as a research assistant since he completed his bachelor’s degree. With a soaring GPA of 4.0 and alluring references from his professors, he completed his Masters program in 2017 with hopes of becoming a scientist. Those dreams were soon forced to a halt after countless attempts left him demotivated.
“It was really tough, I applied to a lot of places but received standard rejections without even interviewing.”
Some jobs in his field demanded a PhD, which he specifically did not pursue because he deemed the industry not to have enough job prospects and from experience knew that higher qualifications will not guarantee him a job but in reality, gets him deeper in debt with the expensive international student tuition.
He remained working in the University’s research department as an assistant with an unlivable stipend of 19000 a year, which in his opinion was very exploitative. It was only when he removed his over-qualified aspects from his resume that he found a job at Subway restaurants as a sandwich artist. Pooran worked his way from the restaurant staff into the company’s cooperate ladder and from there opportunities started to open up for him.
Thato Larona Tau is a Motswana expat who relocated to Canada in 2015, after completing her advanced diploma in Human Resource management. This diploma and her new environment, to her, symbolized a key to a better life and opportunities, so she was not prepared for the hardship she was soon to be exposed to. She spent a few months applying to jobs in the field and getting constantly rejected. This demotivated her and she started questioning her choices to move. Her friends and classmates back home had comfortable careers while she was yet to see the inside of an office. She knew she had to start making money because she couldn’t live off her savings forever. Eventually she swallowed her pride and applied for a minimum wage job at McDonalds where she stayed and paid her tuition for a pharmacy assistance certificate at ABM college in Edmonton. She recently graduated and expresses her relief now that the job market looks promising.
Most Canadian immigrants often see their jobhunting struggles as a sign to change careers and pursue a post education level in Canada. However, this is not always the case because there are some programs in the country that aim to help those with prior experience and qualifications integrate into the Canadian work culture and find jobs in their industries. The rural roots program with the Rural development network is a Work Integrated Learning program that matches employers across Canada with innovative talent.
Daniela Seiferling , the program manager for Work Integrated learning, says her job is to provide rural employers or business with access to student talent so that in the end employers get their projects completed and students gain work experience. This program that initially started as a pilot project during the Covid pandemic when a lot of businesses were coping with the changes of the pandemic and not being able to recruit or retain people has now bridged the gap between employers and employees.
Deborah Movoria, the Communications and events planning specialist for the WIL at Rural Development Network expressed that as a newcomer herself, integrating into the Canadian workforce was and still is a tedious process, but it does not invalidate the prior experience and qualifications. She says as a newcomer the aim is to transfer the skillset and qualifications from your home country to the Canadian work culture and that is when the Rural roots steps in by helping them get the work experiences through internships and resume updates.
” Canadian employers cannot verify clearly that the references gained from a newcomer’s work country are valid ,so rural roots program help Canadian newcomers build credibility in Canada and helps build character and knowledge of the Canadian workforce”
Seiferling further elaborates that they manage two streams that assist newcomers; the first being the rural roots that is for undergraduates and the second one being the ready-to-work program, that serves any newcomer to Canada and does not have to be enrolled in any post secondary institution to get access. The latter being the latest edition will continue to expand to extend more coverage.
The two concluded that going forward , their goal is to make sure people know that it is possible to continue and build up their careers and not start from scratch. Also to build awareness of equity diversity and inclusion from employers to understand that although foreign, the qualifications newcomers bring is valid and relevant.
Anyone who could use their help can reach out from this link.