Unemployment’s up for Canada’s most Educated Immigrants

Unemployment levels for recent immigrants with university degrees hit their highest point since June, 2010 last month.

By Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Tim Iqbal’s first job in Canada was shovelling snow.

The computer science graduate and his wife, a teacher, had just arrived from Pakistan and needed to pay the bills while they got their skills Canadian certification. So when the temp agency called, he jumped at the chance.

He was decked out in dress pants and fancy shoes, but took off his tie before starting to shovel.

That was eight years ago. A few months after his arrival in Canada in 2006, Iqbal got his first job in IT. Now, he runs his own company – two, actually: solar and IT development and consulting – and mentors new Canadians who find themselves in the same position he and his wife were in.

Except today, the prospects for Canada’s most highly educated new Canadians is far more dismal.

Unemployment levels for recent immigrants with university degrees hit their highest point since June, 2010 last month.

According to data Statistics Canada crunched for Global News, 14 per cent of university-educated immigrants who’ve come to Canada in the last five years are without a job – more than their counterparts with a post-secondary certificate or high-school diploma.

Ratna Omidvar‘s been at this long enough you could forgive her frustration. The chair of the board at the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and president of Maytree, Omidvar’s been working to close the chasm between immigrant and Canadian-born unemployment; now that’s it’s yawning wider than ever, safe to say it’s “disappointing.”

So what would she like to see? A national program that does what TRIEC does– matching immigrants with employers or other mentors and helping employers become more inclusive recruiters -would help, she says. Better government incentives, perhaps, could encourage employers to look beyond their own existing networks when hiring.

Until then, “it’s a matter of time and timing,” Omidvar says. When you arrive (hint: recession’s a bad time) and how long you’ve been here.

“Over time … they will climb back up the ladder” to obtain a job that fits their skill sets, she says. In the meantime, newcomers’ skills grow stale as they struggle to establish themselves.

Read more here.

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