December 1, 2014

Brokering Success: Improving Skilled Immigrant Employment Outcomes

A Mowat Centre report on improving skilled immigrant employment outcomes through strengthened government-employer engagement by Andrew Galley and Jill Shirey.

Poor employment outcomes for skilled immigrants have long been a problem in Canada. Despite efforts to better integrate new immigrants into the labour market and to close the gap between the incomes of newcomers and their Canadian-born peers, skilledimmigrants continue to experience higher levels of unemployment.

Brokering Success examines the improvement of employment outcomes for skilled immigrants through strengthened government-employer engagement. It explains the necessity to design and implement initiatives that focus on “demand-led” employment supports for new skilled immigrants rather than those solely focused on job seekers’ skills and abilities.

The report identifies four key levers available to governments to improve engagement and outcomes:

  1. Legislation and policy, including rules on entry streams and employment equity
  2. Economic development outreach, specifically building on existing relationships cultivated by economic development officers
  3. Funding of programs and services
  4. Engagement with intermediaries that represent employers, such as sector councils

It has recommendations to governments and employers to improve engagement in a manner that adapts to local needs, supports smaller enterprises, builds a common language around evidence, skills, and objectives; and promotes long-term stability of programs, services, and funding to build trust and sustained initiatives.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. All solutions require trade-offs, and levers for engagement may be more or less appropriate depending on the context, the level/order of government, and the employer.

The report says introduction of the new Canada Job Funds and the Canada Job Grant, and the shift toward the Express Entry system as the main immigration stream presents an opportunity to experiment with demand-driven initiatives to improve labour market outcomes for skilled immigrants.

Given the poor state of labour market information, it is hoped this research will help towards creating structures to enable employers easily access immigrant and other talent living in Canada.

Read the full report

Key findings of the report Brokering Success

Matthew Mendelsohn makes a strong case for improved engagement between governments and employers. He sees it as a necessary step in designing and implementing innovative “demand-led” initiatives that can produce better employment outcomes for newcomers.

Recommendations and Q & A

Ratna Omidvar highlights some of the recommendations that emerge from the Report. She addresses how governments should arrange and re-arrange internal systems and how governments can approach employers more effectively.

[UPDATE] Missed Opportunities, Missed Economic Gains

The cost of immigrant unemployment and underemployment:

  • A 2016 Conference Board of Canada study examined just how much does the Canadian economy lose when internationally trained and skilled immigrants do not get their work experience and credentials recognized. They estimated that Canada’s economy could gain $13.5 to $17 billion from improving the credential recognition process for immigrants.
  • From an individual standpoint, internationally trained and educated professionals that face credential recognition barriers stand to gain between $15,972 and $20,136 per annum, if these challenges were mitigated.

Complex Credential Recognition System:

  • Canada’s credential recognition process is complex, multi-layered, non-aligned and not streamlined. It involves various institutions and occupational bodies. To success and benefit from the highly skilled and talented immigrants that come on an annual basis, Canada’s system needs to evolve and streamline the credential recognition process so that Canada’s economy continues to thrive and benefit from the talent and skills of immigrants. across sector.
  • Develop a single pan-Canadian standard, and ensure that assessment be initiated from abroad
  • Develop a broader strategy for alternative careers with a prominent role for regulators
  • Produce comprehensive labour market information targeted at newcomers

Source: Government of Canada

Lessons from Australia:

  • Australia’s Immigration and Workforce Development, Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, and Department of Education, Science and Training work together to align immigration policy with workforce development policy.
  • Aligning departments that oversee learning recognition (credential recognition) work together to ensure that immigrants are likely to succeed. They do this through a combination of information provision, online tools, and links to certification bodies.
  • A highly integrated approach works. The Government of Canada, provinces and regulatory bodies need to work together to ensure that immigration and workforce development are aligned.

Source: Brain Gain 2015: The State of Canada’s Learning Recognition Program

Magnet, Ryerson University in partnership with Hire Immigrants produced this article. The article is made possible with the funding from the Government of Ontario.

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